Open to me now through his body’s wounds are his heart’s secret, the great mystery of love “the merciful heart of our God who has visited us from on high.” What kind of heart do the wounds reveal? A gentile, sweet and most merciful heart! Can anyone show greater mercy than to lay down his life for those condemned to death?

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Sermon 61 on the Song of Songs.

“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).

Since many Christians, moreover, have lost their eschatological sense, death is surrounded by silence, by anxiety, or by an attempt to relegate it to the ranks of the trivial. For centuries, the Church has taught us to pray that death will not take us by surprise, that we will be given time to prepare for it; now a sudden death is looked upon as a blessing. But not to accept and respect death is not to accept and respect life itself.

Joseph Ratzinger, Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year, ed. Irene Grassl, trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), page 358.

 

(bold emphasis above added by me)

My notes:   Eschatology is the study/understanding of the four final things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. We should NOT pray for a quick death. We should pray for a death which we have time to prepare for. Before our death we need to repent, ask Jesus for His Divine Mercy, and tell God we love Him (“Jesus I will love you forever!”). Praying direct to the Holy Trinity with a daily “Act of Contrition” is one of the best ways to prepare for the day we die. Another daily prayer to prepare for death is the “Hail Mary”. This is done with an understanding of the last verse: “…pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We ask the Mother of Jesus to intercede for us in our final hour of life here on earth, so that we will be prepared to enter into a eternal life with her Son.