“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” – Matthew 5:7
What does it mean to be merciful?
Mercy is God’s active empathy and compassion to those who are guilty and needy. Before our Holy God, we are all guilty, yet despite our guiltiness, God chooses to move toward us in this undeserving condition and extend His kindness and goodness to us freely without reservation. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to understand the meaning of the phrase: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus shows us what it means to be merciful: He healed the sick, welcomed the stranger and pardoned those who persecuted and killed him. Mercy matters – it matters because one, we all need forgiveness and also because it is what can join us all together despite our differences.
Questions for reflection
Look up how the LORD describes Himself in Exodus 34: 6-8. The very first quality that He lists is “merciful”. Why is mercy such an important quality to understand? What would happen if the LORD were short on mercy? (See Lamentations 3:22).
The merciful receive mercy. Do you think it is possible to be merciful without first experiencing mercy yourself? Why or why not?
How can we live out the Fifth Beatitude?
- Forgive someone who has hurt you.
- Participate in or organize a food drive.
- Donate clothes to a homeless shelter
- Visit the elderly in a nursing home
- Get a group together to write letters of encouragement and hope for local prisoners
O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into your mercy and to be your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes pass through my heart to my neighbor.
Help me that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May your mercy rest upon me.
O my Jesus, transform me in yourself, for you can do all things.
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska