Mercy, Misericordia, is casting one’s heart upon someone else’s misery, loving the other in the midst of his misery. But before flooding us with its benevolence, mercy demands truth, justice and repentance. In God, mercy will become ‘forgiveness’.  Thus we are at the centre of the Gospel message.

Forgiveness is the most striking face of God’s love for mankind. Thus Saint Peter asked Jesus: ‘“Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven”’ (Mt 18:21-22). In other words, tirelessly.

Indeed, we must love as God loves. God knows man’s failures and great weaknesses, but He casts His Heart upon our misery. God rejoices to forgive us, Forgiveness is beginning again to love with more gratuitousness and generosity when love has been badly hurt.

Without God’s grace, unless we fix our eyes on the crucifix, from which we hear the voice of Jesus praying for His executioners, and unless we open our flawed hearts to graft them onto the pierced Heart of the One who comes to consume our sins with the fire of His overflowing Love, it will be difficult for us to forgive, because this act requires us to give in abundance.

It is necessary to be overflowing with love, it is necessary to have superabundant love in order to attain the truth of forgiveness. The best imitation of Jesus is forgiveness. In the Gospel, the prodigal son, the adulterous woman, Mary Magdalene, are marvellous examples of forgiveness given to us by Christ to imitate.

God is forgiveness, love and mercy; the radical newness of Christianity is found here and nowhere else.

Men must forgive as God himself forgives, tirelessly. We were made by God, and it is enough for us to remember our divine origins in order to comply easily with His will, which asks us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect in His mercy. Forgiveness always allows man to be recreated, for this is an opportunity that has come from heaven.

 

Adapted and edited from Cardinal Robert Sarah ‘God or Nothing – A Conversation on Faith’  Ignatius Press 2015 Pp. 203-204.

This article can be found in Mirror 0316.