For there are three ways of performing an act of mercy: the merciful word, by forgiving and by comforting; secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray - that too is mercy; and thirdly, deeds of mercy. And when the Last Day comes, we shall be judged from this, and on this basis we shall receive the eternal verdict.--Saint Faustina Kowalska: (1905 – 1938: Polish religious, Christian mystic, and nun)
Scripture Text: (1 JN 4:19–5:4)
Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
The epistle of St. John has strong words to say about loving God and neighbor. It is a variation of the Lord’s commandment to love God with our entire being and to love neighbor as oneself. These always go together. Humanly speaking, it is easier to love God for all the ways we have been blessed. God is unconditionally on our side. But it is not so easy to love people who treat us poorly or have harmed us. That is the challenge we face every day.
In today’s epistle, St. John wastes no time saying that it is a lie to say that we love God, and at the same time hate a brother or sister. I must admit that I find it hard to love Islamic terrorists or other persons who inflict great harm on people. It is always inspiring for me to hear a family forgive a person who has harmed or killed a loved one. It is the grace of God working in the midst of their pain.
That is the Christian way. That means desiring to forgive and to pray for enemies of the Church and those who dislike us.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are asked to reflect upon the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Two of the spiritual works are 1) to bear wrongs patiently; and 2) to forgive offenses willingly. It is the grace of God which allows us to think and act in such a counter culture manner. In fact as we grow in love of God and seek to be obedient to his commandments, we receive the grace to love our neighbor more effectively, and to forgive those who hurt us.