Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence, into pure joy. Keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity.

Come to that place, that space within, that place of deep silence – solitude…to just being here and now, without having to accomplish something.

Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that come with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

We reflected on “Gentleness” as our theme of Reflection in 2015. Our theme for Reflection in 2016 is the gift of “Mercy”. We want to explore, reflect and contemplate this virtue as our way of being, of living and of acting. I invite all of you to walk with me on this journey of contemplating the gift of the mercy of our God and learning to treat ourselves and others with kindness and compassion no matter what life may bring as we continue our journey.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary offers us the following definitions of Mercy: kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly; kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation; compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender; lenient or compassionate treatment; imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder; a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion; compassionate treatment of those in distress;
charity, clemency, forbearance, lenience, leniency, lenity, mercifulness, etc.

Jesus said to his followers, “Blessed are they who show mercy: mercy shall be theirs” (Mathew 5:7). This beatitude is one of the most appealing attitudes and at the same time difficult to cultivate. Everyone loves the Good Samaritan, the Forgiving Father, the Shepherd after the lost sheep, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa and others who are inspiring examples of mercy. Mercy sustains our hope for forgiveness and healing. Mercy empowers us to be optimistic about people and the world around us.

Mercy is at the heart of Christian life. The Greek word for “merciful” (eleemon) goes back to the original Aramaic and Hebrew word for “mercy” (chesed) – meaning the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind and feel things with his feelings. It does not mean simply to sympathize with a person in the ordinary sense of the word or to feel sorry for the person. It is definitely not pity. It is sympathy, and more than sympathy or an emotion, it is loving kindness and compassion.

Mercy is an inside story; compassion is the story of the heart, the deepest part of our being. How blessed is the person who gets inside another person’s story, who feels intensely and deeply with others and cares enough to respond with mercy! God will bless him with mercy!

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, proclaimed a Year of Mercy to begin on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and to end with the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. The apostolic letter of Pope Francis “Misericordiae Vultus” states, “I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.”

The Holy Father tells us, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy” and calls us to constantly contemplate this mystery of mercy as it is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Mercy is the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy is the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness. The pope writes, “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life.” The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.

I have heard the story of two friends walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand, “Today, my best friend slapped me in the face.”

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning experience, he wrote on a stone, “Today, my best friend saved my life.”

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?” The other friend replied, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”

How great our world will be if all of us strived to be merciful and write our hurts in the sand and carve our blessings on stone! How wonderful our world will be if we learned to forgive our hurts and heal our brokenness! Mercy is that virtue that enables us to forgive failures, overlook shortfalls, heal brokenness, create harmony and bring us peace.

Now imagine, visualize, if you can…Jesus seated on a rock, on the mountain…the disciples and lots of people around him…Now join the crowd before Jesus…Sit with them and listen!

Listen to the Master, Jesus proclaiming good news…….

“Blessed are they who show mercy: mercy shall be theirs” (Mathew 5:7).

Listen Again……Oh,
How blessed are those who show mercy, mercy shall be theirs!

Dwell in silence and solitude and keep listening…….Oh, How blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the land!

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs