Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

The Old Testament repeatedly describes God as merciful, and Israel is called to imitate God’s mercy. Mercy involves an inward identification with those in need and an outward action of kindness and generosity toward them. In this beatitude Jesus emphasizes the reciprocal nature of mercy—a theme Matthew develops throughout his Gospel. God will show his mercy to us to the extent that we are merciful to others.

Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), page 90.

 

My notes: Italics and bold added by me.  The mercy we receive is the mercy we give and the reverse, the mercy we give is the mercy we receive.

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  (Matthew 9:13)

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

“This passage originally denounced Israelites who were trying to cover up their grave sins with external acts of piety such as sacrifice. Since sacrifice was supposed to express covenant love and faithfulness, Hosea said that God desires “mercy,” not (empty) sacrifices. The Greek word for mercy here is eleos, which in the Septuagint often represents the Hebrew word hesed, meaning loyal, steadfast covenant love. Jesus uses this quotation from Hosea to challenge the Pharisees not to allow external practices such as their table fellowship regulations to replace the steadfast love that must be shown to God and all his people, including sinners and tax collectors who have fallen away (23:23). Embodying Israel’s mission to be light to the whole world (5:14), Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), page 134.

 

My Notes: Divine Mercy Sunday 2016. God is our Father, and mercy is not just the forgiveness of our sins, but “loyal, steadfast covenant love”. So loyal and steadfast need to describe how we love both God and our family, friends and neighbors.

You are my God; have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day. (Psalm 86:2-3)

1. No greater gift could God have given to men than in making His Word, by which He created all things, their Head, and joining them to Him as His members: that the Son of God might become also the Son of man, one God with the Father, one Man with men; so that when we speak to God in prayer for mercy, we do not separate the Son from Him; and when the Body of the Son prays, it separates not its Head from itself: and it is one Saviour of His Body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who both prays for us, and prays in us, and is prayed to by us.

St. Augustine of Hippo, “Expositions on the Book of Psalms,” in Saint Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 8, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), pages 409–410.

My Notes: Our prayer to the Father for mercy is the one same prayer of Jesus to the Father for the same mercy. Jesus prays with us, we have the same prayer: mercy.

… as we forgive those who trespass against us

Now—and this is daunting—this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see (See 1 John 4:20). In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace.

Catechism of the Catholic Church #2840

My Notes:
Our prayer to receive mercy from Our Father in Heaven is bound together with our prayer in which we give mercy to our brothers and sisters here on earth.

“Jesus, I trust in you!”. This is the simple prayer that Sr Faustina taught us, and which we can have on our lips at every moment of our lives. How often, as a worker, a student and then as a priest and bishop, in the difficult periods of the history of Poland, I also repeated this simple and profound aspiration and experience its efficacy and power.

Mercy is one of the most wonderful attributes of the Creator and of the Redeemer; the Church lives to bring humanity to this inexhaustible wellspring, of which she is depository and dispenser.
August 21, 2002, St. John Paul II, Audiences of Pope John Paul II (English) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2014).

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.

We can pray for and should pray for mercy, but what is mercy?

“Mercy. God’s loving care for all creatures, especially human beings, which invites us, in turn, to empathize with and alleviate the misery of others.”
Gerald O’Collins and Edward G. Farrugia, A Concise Dictionary of Theology (New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2013), page 152.

We can also learn from Jesus as He teaches about this: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13) For Jesus wants us to have loving care for Him, by us showing and giving loving care for our brothers and sisters. This care/mercy for others is accomplished in the corporal works of mercy (feeding the hungry…) and also praying for others. We should both pray for ourselves and others to receive mercy.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on my family.

To delight in us, to find joy in us, to see his dream fulfilled in us: this is what God so ardently pursues! In the Incarnation and the Cross, the Word sought us out so that he could delight in us.

How many of us have ever considered that giving joy to God is perhaps the essential aspect of the human and Christian vocation? And yet, without that, what would it mean to say that God loves us and that we love him in return? What is love without mutual joy and enjoyment between persons, at both the human and the divine levels?

Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapters 1–25, vol. 3 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996–2012), page 37.

 

My notes:  Part of our prayer should be telling God we love Him, and listening for Him to tell us that he loved us first. This mutual love should be a source of joy, for both God and us.

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