Blessed are the Merciful
1. If we want God to show mercy on us, we must be merciful to those who are in material or spiritual distress.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt. 5:7)
Let us recall the Gospel parable about the king who was making out the accounts of all his servants. One man was brought before him who owed him the enormous sum of ten thousand talents. He had no means of paying the debt. In order to obtain at least some compensation, the king ordered that this servant should be sold, together with his wife and children. But the servant wept and implored, so that the king was moved with pity and pardoned him completely. When the servant had left the king's presence, he met a fellow servant who owed him a small sum, namely, one hundred pieces of silver. He threw himself angrily upon him and caught him by the throat, demanding that he should pay the debt immediately. The unfortunate fellow began begging for mercy with tears in his eyes, but it was no use. He was flung into prison and condemned to forced labour until such time as the debt would be paid. Soon afterwards the king came to hear of this incident. He was furious with the cruel servant and ordered him to be put in prison and severely punished. (Mt. 18:23-25)
This parable refers to all of us. What debts we have contracted before God! Nevertheless, He is prepared to forgive us everything, provided that we are also merciful towards our fellowmen. This should be a comforting assurance.
2. Some day each one of us will stand before the judgment seat of God and will have to render an account of all his actions. Are we anxious that God will be merciful to us at that crucial moment? Let us be forgiving and charitable towards others now. It is clear from the words of the Gospel that we shall be pardoned or condemned largely in accordance with the measure of our mercifulness and charity. God will show mercy towards us as we show mercy towards others. In fact, the Eternal Judge will say to the good: "Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you covered me; sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me." Then He will turn to the wicked and deliver this terrible sentence. "Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me... Amen I say to you, as long as you did not do it for one of these least ones, you did not do it for me." (Mt. 25: 34-46)
These are terrifying words. They should persuade us to exercise charity towards all who are suffering in any way.
3. Works of mercy can be either corporal or spiritual. The former cannot be practised much by those who are poor, but any generous-minded Christian can perform the latter. Sometimes there is greater charity in speaking a kind word than in giving a large alms. Often it is worth more in the sight of God to comfort a sorrowful heart or to revive in some soul a dying hope than it is to fill a hungry belly. There are so many spiritual miseries which are crying out to be assuaged. The suffering of the soul is much deeper than that of the body. This is why anything done to soothe and encourage the soul is so valuable before God. We can also do something about the remorse, disgust and darkness which are the result of the state of sin. If we can succeed in enlightening or healing one of these poor souls, we shall have accomplished a work of mercy which is most beautiful and meritorious in the eyes of God.