Friday, 13 July 2012
It is easy to talk about the mercy of God, but difficult to understand the depth of the mystery that we are dealing with. The human understanding of justice has to do with righting of wrongs, bringing the scales back into balance, which of course is impossible. For justice and revenge are first cousins, often accompanying each other on the road, trying to right wrongs. Most humans have a strong sense of justice when it is applied to wrong doers, a natural desire that flows from wrongs committed against oneself or others.
Mercy for many is something unknown and when experienced can be life changing. Like water in the desert, mercy can bring life and healing to many human situations, but it can be difficult to apply and in some instances impossible, for our human emotions can take over allowing the application of mercy impossible. So in the end cycles are often fed, growing strong and healthy, feeding on the pain and anger of those seeking justice, but in the end, is only another word for revenge. It is a serious human dilemma with severe consequences that seem to be growing, if what we see on the news is any indication.
When thinking of ‘Divine Mercy’, it is something different, easy to apply to oneself but at times almost impossible to desire for others. For mercy, unlike justice, if applied correctly, is not something that can be earned, it is simply a gift bestowed on the other, without strings, something I am not sure humans are capable of. Divine mercy is another order entirely, something that can be experienced only as a gift, that can only be accepted, payment impossible.
Divine Mercy incarnate, Jesus, while hanging on the cross, forgave those who betrayed, tortured and crucified him, something if truly thought about and prayed over, can only be incomprehensible in its reality and staggering in its implication. Is anyone outside that mercy or forgiveness? It seems not.
I seek mercy for myself and often I want justice for others. This is because I don’t see into the others heart, but often only into my own, and even then not deep enough. Excuses are often used and not truth about the depth of my own guilt, so even when asking for mercy I don’t understand what it is I am truly receiving. Saints often call themselves great sinners, which is because they do understand. Something I am still no where near, lacking the insight and courage to truly see.
There are intimations in humans that can point in some way to divine mercy. For instance in children, we can often forgive many things because we know and understand that they lack the maturity to comprehend the true nature of their actions, which hopefully will come with aging and experience. Also those who are mentally ill, they are often forgiven the wrongs they have done, though perhaps they will need to be put somewhere for their own safety and others. So mercy comes from seeing deeply and understanding. God sees us as we truly are, hence mercy. To know all is to forgive all is something I once heard in a retreat many years ago. At the time I did not understand; now it is beginning to register. Yet even then, divine mercy is a glorious mystery, one hopefully we all will embrace with joy at the sheer gift and grace that it is.
Is there someone in your life who you want justice for rather than divine mercy? How can you change your heart toward that person? How has the gift of divine mercy impacted your life?