Learning from God to be merciful

Learning from God to be merciful

Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Year A (Matt 18:21-35)
September 17, 2017

By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB

WE all have some “soft spots” and, if pricked in one of them, we react immediately with aggressiveness. With very few exceptions, none of us is prepared to see his/her own feelings and rights trampled upon. Should anyone dare to hurt us, he will surely have to suffer the blows of our resentment and vengeance . . . .

God, too, has “feelings.” How does He react to our offenses? Being our Creator and greatest Benefactor he would have all the reasons in the world to “feel hurt” and punish us immediately when we misuse His gifts, or use them in open defiance of His will. Yet,
“not according to our sins does He deal with us,
nor does He requite us according to our crimes . . .
for He knows how we are formed;
He remembers that we are dust.” (Ps 103:10.14)

Not only does the Lord reveal Himself as “merciful” (see Jer 3:12), but He also demands that the members of His chosen people imitate His generosity, for “Why should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his own sins?” (Sir 28:4)
We know that the greatest sign of God’s mercy toward sinful mankind is Jesus Christ. He included the merciful in the Beatitudes (see Mt 5:7), and reminded his disciples that what God wants of them is not so much ritual offerings, but merciful, compassionate hearts, always ready to understand and forgive. (See Mt 9:13.)

Today, we are all invited to enroll in God’s “school of mercy” – the mercy advertised in every cross, in the image of the “King of Divine Mercy,” and in the moving pictures of Christ’s bleeding heart. We can receive free “demonstration lessons” of God’s mercy at every Eucharistic celebration and every confession. But in such a school, we are also given the assignment to “go and do likewise,” by offering our offenders the same forgiveness we implore for ourselves when we pray to our Father in heaven. Failure to do so will spell big trouble for us because God will refuse to forgive us our sins. And if this happens who can save us from eternal damnation? . . .