Jesus is the face of God’s mercy

By Most Rev. Stephen J.Berg
Isn’t it wonderful, how we grow to know and love Jesus? When we realize in faith that Jesus Christ is the definition of God, or, how God wishes for us to know him on earth as God, we become even more fascinated with Jesus. Our lives change. We resonate with the message Pope Francis constantly presents in his ministry, that Jesus Christ not only represents but actually is God’s mercy given and present to our lives.

The Holy Father teaches this by his actions, words, and the very way he organizes his life; his recent visit to our country visibly demonstrated his concern for the sick, the poor and the prisoners. Now the Pope has announced a Holy Year of Mercy with an exhortation to “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” He invites us to proclaim these words: Jesus Christ is the face of God’s mercy.

Let us reflect for a moment on the Pope’s exhortation to gaze upon mercy so that it becomes a more effective sign in our lives. “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. . . Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness” (Misericordiae Vultus #2).

I believe that we all encounter a particular challenge even as we arrive at a stronger measure of spiritual commitment. We become reconciled with God in one sense, but how do we show mercy to those who have hurt us? And this inability to forgive can become a difficulty that grows, beginning a vicious cycle of conflict, anxiety, examination of motives, and finally an interference in prayer, an obstacle to our relationship with Christ. One thing I have learned is that one must present these instances fully to the Lord in prayer in detail, and then take enough time to realize God’s mercy for oneself. Then to cooperate with that mercy: to allow God to forgive me, to cooperate with God and then forgive myself, is to take the next step towards forgiveness of another. This is where mercy begins “at home.” Accepting mercy is a humbling proposition at some times. But it is there that we discover the wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace which allows us to take the next step towards forgiveness of others. Mercy comes first from God; and, we can only give what we have received.

This Holy Year calls us to mercy: a force that overcomes everything, fills the human heart with love, and brings consolation to all through pardon. God’s mercy is a sign of God’s omnipotence. Our being merciful is a sign that we have accepted God’s power in our lives as we extend to others, through the eyes of our mercy, the opportunity for them to see themselves in the eyes of Divine Mercy, the eyes of Christ.