By Michael Curry

“Show mercy to ourselves.  `But this person did that… What have I done?  That person is more of a sinner than me.  Which of us can say this, that the other person is more of a sinner than me?  None of us can say this!  Only Our Lord knows this”. 

Pope Francis

We talk about mercy but what does mercy look like in your life?  Are you mindful of your own sinfulness?  How do you practice being merciful?

As Christians we should follow God`s commandments but our human side can get in the way and we fall short of God`s expectations.  For those who are not Christians and know God and follow His commandments are good examples of those who are Christians but don`t always set a good example remind us that we should do all and everything to please our God.  

Should we all be kind and caring to everyone whether we know them or not and does that include our immediate family and those who struggle with disabilities, chronic pain, grief or depression? For such people can have little or no encouragement from some folks. One day they can be sailing on a calm sea and “the next day all of that hope seems to evaporate” (Page 18 From A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada). We must “encourage one another daily… so that none of you may be hardened by sin`s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

The fact and the truth is “ we all need daily encouragement from each other when it comes to keeping a positive outlook” (Page 18 From A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada) for if there is none then the bible says “we are in danger of our hearts being hardened, not only by sin but cynicism, bitterness or despair” (Diamonds in the Dust July 18 The Forgetfulness of God by Joni Eareckson Tada). We need others who encourage and lift us up with wise words and reminders of God`s goodness, grace and power. 

If that person has harmed you physically or mentally how should you treat them?  It`s good to forgive the person but an entirely different matter if you can never forget the incident that caused you that harm in the first place.  How much can the victim remember however many years have elapsed?

It is true we may care and love some people more than others; have more compassion and care.  Why is that?  Shouldn`t we have the same intensity when it comes to treating and respecting others. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them done to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12).  Since Adam and Eve sinned then we have too and as mentioned early fallen short of God`s grace and glory.

The person who has been injured may scorn and reprimand his accuser but God expects us to do more than think unwelcome thoughts about our accuser.  This is not how God expects us to behave although this is part of our humanness and is a poor attitude to have.

Indifference, ignorance, arrogance, condemnation and deliberate intentions of actions portrayed all play in the mind of human beings and often can bring their own downfall.  They do not contribute to our personality and these kinds of attitude are barriers preventing us from being closer to God through Jesus Christ.  God may have given us free will but we do know right from wrong, good and evil and the choices we make.  

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”.  Proverbs 12:18

We certainly need reminding of this and cannot be emphasised enough.  Consider when Jesus was on earth accomplishing his work for His Father, he spoke and the lame were healed and when Peter preached his first sermon, thousands were gathered into the Kingdom on one day.  Such powerful things can happen when we speak and in our actions.  Our words and actions can either accomplish great good or inflict unbelievable damage that may last a lifetime.  With any slight change of inflection just a subtle tone of voice and behaviour they can wound or create distance.  Simultaneously our words can lift people from the pit of despondency or call them back from the cliff- edge of hell.  “Words can kill, words give life; they are either poison or fruit, you choose.” (Proverbs 18:21) It is the same with actions. Words can change the course of our day or life.  We could minimise the words we speak and also our efforts to lift someone`s heart or brighten their day. However in God`s hands, those few words can make a world of difference 

Part of our human conditioning is that we can have poor memories at least overtime.  When God tells us he will remember not our sins any more he means it.  He removes every sin we have ever committed so why is it that we can often feel guilty of our past sins? This is “because we confuse sin with its impression” (Diamonds in the Dust).  When you get an opportunity write on a piece of paper the word “sin” and press hard. “Now tear off that sheet of paper, crumple it and throw it across the room.  This is “how God forgets your sin” (Diamonds in the Dust).

“Now take your pencil and rub it on the new page at an angle, back and forth, over the same location where you wrote and there you have the ghost of the word “sin” appears.”(6)  This is how our flawed memories can be. “We seem to go back over the deep impression left by our transgression in our life and we feel just as guilty.  It`s as if the sin has never left us” (Diamonds in the Dust).  Never feel discouraged, encouragement is with you.  “The impression of sin is not the same thing as sin and with David you can cry out, “I can`t forget my scars, it seems, Lord but you have forgotten their cause.  Look upon me with loving, kind eyes.”

It`s your choice.  Will you continue to work over forgiven sin as with a pencil? Or will you let the Holy Spirit work His loving kindness?” (Diamonds in the Dust).

We need to look at ourselves and know how to change our attitude to our brothers and sisters for it is necessary to our spiritual journey and well-being and through this life to the everlasting life.  It also makes us feel good inside when we are giving kindness and compassion.  

We must aim to please God in all our actions and words and he will reward us.  When we go to communion we are in union with others and God.  This is the essence of attending mass.  Receive the bread and wine with an impure soul and heart and accompanying thoughts and that is blaspheming God.  If God is asking us to be in union and with like-minded people how should we practice doing it?  By giving in to sin and living the Gospel of Christ.  That`s easy said than done you may say and living a long side scripture is paramount if we are to journey on to our real home, heaven.