–an excerpt from an article by Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, (Daughters of St Paul) a former atheist who, thanks to the grace of God, has returned to the faith she was raised in and now tries to help others bring their loved ones back to the faith. A few years after returning to the Church, she heard God calling her, so she left her job in Silicon Valley to join the Daughters of St. Paul. She now lives in Miami, where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread, and blogs.
“I have found that when it comes down to it, my mercy toward others often sums up to being merciful toward others who are merciful to me, or toward those who can repay me in some way.
I try to reach out to the elderly sisters in the convent where I live. It is much easier for me to be kind to the sisters who smile and squeeze my hand than it is to reach out to the sisters who are more abrasive or needy.
I also have realized that I forgive friends, family and my sisters in the convent who I want to remain in relationship with, but with others, I choose to maintain resentments. I don’t usually do this consciously, but sometimes it is just easier not to expend the energy it would require to work through even the smallest slights. Instead, I avoid some people or write them off after they have wronged me once, or have been rude one too many times. I quickly lose patience; I stop reaching out. I stop trying.
I have found that extending mercy toward a person who has slighted me in the smallest of ways can sometimes be more difficult than forgiving those who have truly hurt me deeply. Perhaps it is the small things that are easier to push under the rug of our subconscious, while the larger wounds are sometimes more difficult to ignore. It is much more in our interest to address them, to search for healing and to move on.
This is human mercy. It is a mercy that is generous when it is in one’s personal interest, but forgetful when it does not seem to matter. It is a stingy mercy that is often really just looking out for oneself.
But Jesus calls us to a mercy that is bigger, more generous, more divine. It is a mercy that flows from the “fullness” of grace that we have been given through the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. It is a mercy that is rooted in our Merciful Savior and extends forgiveness in the same way to everything and everyone, even people who hurt us in small, seemingly easy-to-forget ways.
God’s mercy is indulgent. It goes overboard. It goes beyond the law. If God were only interested in justice, he would cease being God, for humans are interested in merely the fulfillment of the law. His mercy shocks and astounds with an overabundance of generosity. God’s mercy is not just for our big sins, it is for our small sins, the ones that even we have a hard time living with. So must ours be, if we would follow Him. If we would have Him be so with us. Mt 7:2.
Every New Year’s I try to think of some resolutions I can make to help me both on a human and a spiritual level. Sometimes resolutions are simple, like exercise or read more spiritual books.
This year, in honor of the Jubilee of Mercy (and the pope who I unashamedly love), I plan to think of resolutions that are in line with these questions:
How can I be more open to God’s mercy?
How can I become the face of mercy to others?
What are the obstacles to receiving/giving mercy in my life, and how can I work with God to overcome them?”
Do you dare do the hard work above?
Love, and praying for new and more ways to show mercy to others, that mercy might be shown to me!!! God have mercy on my soul. Amen. Amen. Amen.