We often hear about violent crime; levels of corruption in public life; violence against women; human trafficking; sexual abuse of children. Sin pervades the society each of us is part of. In our own personal lives too, we sin, perhaps not always in such overt or dramatic ways but in ways that echo attitudes of heart that go against God’s goodness. We too “have sinned, have done wrong, have acted wickedly”. But now, as then, God is a God of mercy and compassion.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus asks us to imitate the mercy and generosity of God. When we really recognise our own need of God’s mercy and compassion and allow ourselves to experience it, we come to really know at a deep level, that we are sinners deeply loved by God. There is a joy in that experience of knowing our own brokenness and sinfulness and seeing that we are infinitely loved and can be forgiven. That experience of knowing that we are loved sinners, forgiven and called by God, allows us to become more compassionate. We become more sensitive to the frailty of others and more able to be compassionate and merciful ourselves. The gratitude we feel when we recognise God’s generosity, in the face of our unfaithfulness, automatically seeks to flow out into the way we respond to others.
God’s mercy is given generously and unstintingly. God pours it out as a gift. Whenever we are tempted to put limits on God’s mercy we have to remember that God’s nature is to shower us with grace. To place limits on God’s mercy to others or even to ourselves is to sin by not recognising the nature of God’s goodness.
You may find it helpful in prayer to recall when you experienced God’s merciful love in the face of your own sinfulness. Allow yourself to re-experience that joy. Ask yourself, as you reflect on your life today, where are the places where I need to experience God’s forgiveness and healing? Who in my life am I called to show mercy and compassion towards at this time?