29 November 2019

29 November, Antonio Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

The Blessedness of the Merciful

1. Let us meditate now on the mercy of God, which is infinite even as His justice is infinite. "His mercy," says St. Thomas, "does not subtract from His justice, but is the fullness and the perfection of that justice." (S. Th., 1, q. 21, a. 3 ad 2) All the merits which we can acquire in the sight of God derive from His gratuitous gift of grace. God's mercy and justice, therefore, are fused together in a wonderful harmony which claims our gratitude and fidelity.

References to the mercy of God are numerous in Sacred Scripture. “You, Lord, are good and forgiving,” says the Psalmist, “abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.” (Ps. 85:5) “Blessed he the Lord,” we read elsewhere, “my rock, … my refuge and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer…” (Ps. 143:2) “Goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” (Ps. 22:6)

When we leave the Old Testament and open the Gospel, we discover that it is a record of the goodness and mercy of God. We have only to recall Christ's forgiveness of the Magdalen when she wept at His feet for her faults; the merciful judgment which He passed on the poor adulteress; His loving glance in the direction of St. Peter, who had denied Him; the grace so miraculously granted to St. Paul on the road to Damascus; and the parables of the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, and the good shepherd who went to search for the lost sheep. Finally, there are the consoling words to the repentant thief: "This day thou shalt be with me in paradise." When we read this chronicle of infinite goodness and mercy, we should experience a boundless hope and confidence. It does not matter how great our sins or our ingratitude may have been. Once we have repented, God is ready to forgive us and to receive us with open arms.

2. Since God is so merciful to us, however, He requires us to be good and merciful to our neighbour. “Blessed are the merciful,” Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt. 5:7) St. James adds a stern warning. “Judgment,” he says, “is without mercy to him who has not shown mercy; but mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12) If we hope to receive God's mercy, we must show compassion to those who are poor or unfortunate in any way, even to the greatest sinners. In the presence of so much need and misfortune in the world, avarice, miserliness, selfishness or indifference cry out to God for retribution. If we are not prepared to give, nothing will be given to us. If we refuse to forgive, neither shall we be forgiven. If we do not love, neither shall we be loved.

3. Let us remember that we have often made ourselves God's enemies by our sins. We were often in need when we were deprived of divine grace. On these occasions God was merciful to us, for He granted us His forgiveness and His friendship. These gifts of God place an obligation on us to behave in the same way to those who are in need by assisting them willingly and generously, and to those who are unhappy by consoling them as far as possible.

Let us remember the great principle which Jesus Christ has given us. “Even as you wish men to do to you, so also do you to them… Do good to those who hate you… Do not judge, and you shall not be judged; do not condemn and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven, give, and it shall be given to you…” (Cf. Luke 6:30-38) “With what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you.” (Mt. 7:1) So it will be on the day of death when we shall have to appear before the Supreme Judge.

Let us be generous throughout life in giving help and consolation to others. It is more blessed to give than to receive, as the Gospel says. By giving we shall find a little happiness even in this world, and shall be certain that one day the most merciful Judge will pardon and embrace us.

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