This an abbreviated extract from an American Bishop’s column in a regional newspaper…
Mercy may seem reckless to us at times. Mercy trusts those who have proven themselves untrustworthy, those who have failed us. Mercy loves those who acted without love. Mercy hopes in those for whom it seems all hope is lost.
Very often, we question the practice of mercy. A wife forgives an unfaithful husband, and her friends call her a fool. If we befriend the weak, or the elderly, or the unborn, or the disgraced, the world believes we are wasting our time.
But God is merciful. God trusts us, even when we have failed him. God hopes in us, even when we disappoint. God loves us, with love beyond measure, even when we do not believe that we are worthy of his love.
God is not merciful because he is reckless. God is merciful because we are his children. God is merciful because we are made in his image; in God’s sight, we are worthy of his sacrificial love, for the sake of our redemption. God’s mercy is a mystery. But the mystery of God’s mercy gives us new life.
Our lives are often messy, complicated, and disappointing. Very often, we have the sense of being unloved. Our sins can leave us depressed and despondent: without a sense of meaning, or purpose, or hope. Unhappiness, rootlessness, and loneliness seem often to be endemic to the human condition. But mercy gives us new life in God’s friendship.
There is nothing more profound than receiving the mercy of God. And in his grace, we can receive his mercy through the sacramental life of the Church. Pope Francis says that the sacraments – especially the sacrament of confession – are the “bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”
St. Paul says that at all times “God is rich in mercy, because of his great love.” In the sacrament of confession, God reminds us that his love has no conditions, no bounds, and no exceptions.
Mercy forgives, and it strengthens, and comforts, and restores. Mercy is not reckless, because mercy prepares us to leave our sinfulness behind, and to love as God loves, in faithfulness and freedom. Mercy sets us free for new lives of holiness and joy.