REFLECTION: Dispensing divine mercy PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 December 2014 10:45



This is, of course, a tall order, especially to confessors administering the sacrament of penance, and to practically everyone of us, since we all need to forgive one another. But neither is this an impossible task.

We all know that God’s mercy is abiding and is forever.

There is nothing that can’t be tackled by it. God is not scandalized by anything. His mercy can take on anything. Not even our most grievous mistakes and most stupid blunders can frustrate it.

St. John Paul II once said while our capacity to do evil can be infinite because of our spiritual nature, God’s mercy can always limit it. So we should not be too alarmed by any evil, no matter how ugly and persistent, because God’s mercy can handle that.

Always given readily and in abundance, this divine mercy has to be dispensed always in the context of truth, justice and a charity, a combination that is always tricky to the human instruments through whom it is dispensed. The possibility of mishandling it is always there.

Dispensing divine mercy, which is the only kind of mercy proper to us due to our dignity as children of God, requires nothing less than for the human instruments to be vitally united and identified with Christ who is the very personification of divine mercy.

Let’s remember that Christ not only preached what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, but also assumed all the sinfulness of man by offering his life on the cross. He came to save, not to condemn. He was slow to anger, quick to forgive.

He would make use of any sign or trace of goodness, no matter how slight and mixed up with many other bad elements, to elicit a conversion. His mercy is the overflow of love that in the words of St. Paul “is patient and kind...does no insist on its own way...does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13 4-7)

This is the standard that any human instrument charged with dispensing divine mercy should follow. But this standard, let’s be clear about this, is not just abstract idea, a frozen theory and principle, a historical character buried in the past. This standard is a living person, always present in our lives, actively intervening and loving, and easily accessible.

The challenge is precisely in identifying ourselves with Christ. It’s in adopting his mind and attitudes, his skills and willingness to suffer for the sins of man. We just can’t rely on our own theories and human systems of dispensing mercy, nor on our own estimation of what is fair and just.

We need to enter the very mind and heart of Christ. We need to reproduce “in vivo” the very sentiments, desires and concerns of Christ in us. This is something not only possible, but is also very practicable, because the grace of God is given to us abundantly. What is simply needed is our generous and even heroic correspondence driven by faith and charity.

To enter into his mind and heart, we have to be willing to deny ourselves and to carry the cross, as Christ himself clearly indicated to us. A lifestyle that is alien to self-denial and sacrifice can never be welcoming to Christ and to his mercy. We would miss the true essence of divine mercy even if we can appear, by human standards, to be kind and merciful.

Let’s remember that it is through the cross that we can savor God’s wisdom about his infinite mercy. This is the only way we as dispensers of divine mercy can carry out that duty effectively. That is when we, like Christ, would be a loving father, an intimate friend, a competent spiritual doctor and a merciful judge to the penitents and to our offenders.

We would know how to weigh and assess things, make judgments, give timely counsel and effective advice to the penitents. In short, we would know how to deliver the whole mercy of Christ that culminated with his passion, death and resurrection. Mere study or reliance on experience, no matter how vast, while helpful, can only go so far.

Dispensing divine mercy should not just be some ritualistic, much less, bureaucratic and officious exercise. It has to flow organically from a vibrant and persistent effort of one’s sanctification. This is the only way we can capture God’s infinite mercy and feel the great need of men’s forgiveness from God!