Our mistakes and the Mercy of God
Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! May the God of everlasting mercy assist us to appreciate His acts of mercy and be merciful to ourselves and others, Amen. One of the “true lie” we usually tell ourselves in life is that of denying our mistakes and suppressing them or refusing to forgive our failings and mistakes, let alone to forgive others. And if our conscience strive to denounce the lie, we bluntly deny our mistakes or we may find it very difficult to understand why we make mistakes. If there are people who have made MANY mistakes in life, I stand in the midst of such people as a master of mistakes! However, my mistakes have really taught me several lessons and through them I have discovered the Mercy of God. It is through my mistakes, that I have come to the awareness and realization that God has a sense of humor. He is not rigid and wicked, the way we may have sometimes misunderstood Him but He is rather MERCIFUL. So, I keep moving ahead to see God face to face because of the knowledge of His Mercy – “For it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb.6:18). According to the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, “Mercy is heartfelt sympathy for another’s distress” (ST, II.II, q. 30, a. 1). Mercy is the responding dimension of love. It is love personified or exemplified in giving and forgiving. By the omnipotence of God, He exercises His Divine attribute of Mercy by giving and forgiving while we knowingly and unknowingly get and forget. Divine Mercy of God save us!
Now, it is important for us to understand properly the place of the Mercy of God; One of God’s divine attribute. It does not give me the longitude and latitude to live an unworthy life or to remain complacent in my mistakes and to wallow “joyfully” in them. No! The Blessed Virgin Mary in her Magnificat/Canticle says; “His mercy is from age to age, to those who fear him” (Luke 1:50). The Mercy of God is necessary for us because of the misery of evil/sin. Therefore, we feel the need for mercy when sin or ills/evil are brought about accidentally and not by our will. Mercy is not saying we should resign ourselves to mediocrity! No! The Mercy of God rather should be meant or understood as a support system to cushion the effects of our mistakes, hence, St. Thomas Aquinas asserts; “God acts mercifully, not indeed by going against His justice, but by doing something more than justice” (ST, I, q. 21, a. 3). Mercy is the manifestation of God’s power for us even in our mistakes. It is to replace and correct our accidental mistakes, failures and to correct us or redirect our ways.
The formulas for mercy
It is very clear from our discourse, that mistakes in life are not strictly bad and useless. They are stepping stones to awaken our awareness, thinking, actions and above all to attract the mercy of God. The fundamental question is how do we attract the mercy of God? Here we are presented with two formulas: authentic-logic and authentic-love. We shall expose our formulas by illustrating with the examples of the two criminals that were crucified with Jesus Christ in Luke 23:32ff.
Authentic – logic: “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39).
Authentic – love: “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40-41).
It is a serious step taken in the spiritual life to move from understanding Christ elementarily to maturity, that is, if we can embrace the Mercy of God and submit our mistakes for purification and growth.