Summary: The formula goes: (1) We understand God’s mercy for ourselves, which is cognitive, and this leads us to (2) giving mercy to others, which is how we (3) receive mercy for ourselves.
Matthew 5:7 is a great verse for Divine Mercy Sunday—“Blessed are the merciful, they will receive mercy.”
The formula goes: (1) We understand God’s mercy for ourselves, which is cognitive, and this leads us to (2) giving mercy to others, which is how we (3) receive mercy for ourselves.
Think of the root “merc,” from which we get “commerce” and “merchant.” It’s like an exchange where, once we understand, then the giving automatically produces the receiving.
e.g. speaking of commerce:
In the small Texas town of Mount Vernon, Drummond's Bar began construction on a new building to increase their business.
The local Baptist church, which disapproves of drinking alcohol, started a prayer campaign to prevent the bar from expanding. Construction on the bar progressed right up till the week before the grand opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
After the bar burned, the church folks were rather smug in their attitude about "the power of prayer" until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of the building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
The church strongly denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise it its reply to the court. As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, "I don't know how I'm going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and an entire church congregation that doesn't."
Regarding the formula of understanding God’s mercy for ourselves, which leads us to giving mercy to others, which is how we receive mercy for ourselves--
I saw a picture of a lady with a post-it note on her forehead that said, "Be merciful to yourself."
It’s actually crucial to our ability to be merciful to others because we often hold perfectionistic standards for ourselves and are harder on ourselves then others.
If we were to forget about God's mercy, the guilt and shame of our sins would weigh heavily on us even if our conscious mind can’t grasp that. And it will be harder to extend mercy to others.
Notice that "Peace be with you" is repeated several times by Jesus because the disciples needed more assurance because of their unmentioned fear and doubt.
A good technique to receive God’s mercy is to start thinking about how you would respond to a friend in your problematic situation. Typically, you would tell a friend, "It's not as bad as your think," or "It's serious, but you will get through it."
So, today on Divine Mercy Sunday, do we extend God’s mercy to ourselves?
E.g. Feed the hungry. How have I concretely experienced God feeding me? Instruct the ignorant? How has God taught me? Admonish the Sinner? How has God shown me the way?
2). Now we are ready to give mercy to others---Peter did that in our Second Reading as a witness to mercy.
E.g. "Although you have not seen him you love him,…[and]… believe in him". (1 Peter 1:9).
The key to the process of not physically seeing but believing is the notion of "witness." The Gospel of John is a witness statement of what has been seen and experienced in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peter's sermon is his testimony, his witness. Our evangelistic responsibility is to witness to what we have seen, like God’s mercy on us.
It’s multi-faceted, involving our many ways of being and doing as well as what we say--as individuals and communities of faith. Our words will either be supported or undermined by the ways in which we live, and live together. We can make it more or less easy for people "to see" but cannot compel anyone to think or do anything.
Inspiration comes from seeing, really seeing--and then responding to what is seen.
When Thomas saw, he really saw. In seeing the nail marks and the wound at Jesus’ side, he made connections, and leaps of faith, and came to realizations and conclusions and saw Jesus for who he really was.
But there was nothing inevitable about that train of thought and consequences.
Going back to the mercy formula again; first we grasp God’s mercy for us.
E.g. Today is a day of Complete Pardon! Jesus told Saint Sister Faustina--
I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. Then He said to me, My daughter, fear nothing. I am always with you, even if it seems to you that I am not. Your humility draws Me down from My lofty throne, and I unite Myself closely with you (Diary, 1109).