Monday June 17, 2024

Mercy succeeds where love fails

Good News Reflections:
Making scripture meaningful to your daily life
by Terry Modica


“If we refuse to give mercy to others, we are refusing to give them God.”


Good News Reflection for:

Monday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time
June 17, 2024

Today’s Prayer:

Father: Forgive me for my pride and self-sufficiency when judging others and myself. I ask You to help me be always aware of your forgiveness for my unfaithfulness in learning how to be as merciful as You are. Amen.

Daily Prayer and ReflectionPowerful Daily Prayer & Reflection:
gnm.org/prayers/daily-prayer-and-reflection

Today’s Readings:

1 Kings 21:1-16
Ps 5:2-7
Matthew 5:38-42
bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061724.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
bible.usccb.org/podcasts/audio/daily-mass-reading-podcast-june-17-2024

Mercy succeeds where love fails

[ Listen to the podcast of this reflection ]

The Sermon on the Mount can seem too challenging to take seriously unless we’re truly interested in growing stronger in holiness. In chapters five, six and seven of Matthew, Jesus gets down to the nitty-gritty details of how to be holy, and nearly every verse challenges us to examine how much we really do want to learn from him.

Today’s Gospel reading is a good example of this. We don’t really want to turn the other cheek when someone hurts us. We don’t want to lose the court battle when we’re sued, let alone give away more than what’s been demanded from us. We don’t want to give our money to those who didn’t earn it. We don’t want to increase our donation to the Church, because we might need that extra money to buy more clothes or a newer car, a bigger house, or a fantasy vacation. And how quickly we reduce the amount when the pastor or bishop or someone else in the Church does something wrong!

The extreme generosity that’s necessary for holiness becomes easier when we understand why Jesus wants us to be holy. The reason is mercy. Think of love as the front door to people’s hearts. When they close it, mercy is the love that sneaks in through the back door. Mercy succeeds where love fails.

When Jesus preached this Sermon, he raised us above the Old Testament’s “eye for an eye” spirituality, which gets so easily warped into revenge-seeking. Basically, he said: When others hurt you, be merciful and love them (forgive them, do good to them, pray for them, etc.). This is how we stay united to God, who is Divine Mercy itself. In this unity, he turns our problems into blessings and produces a greater good.

People hurt us without understanding that they’re actually hurting themselves. By sinning, they close the door to God’s love. But if we love them, we give God to them; he reaches them through us (we become the back door to their hearts). If we refuse to give them mercy, we are refusing to give them God, and we are also closing our own doors to God and to his love.

If someone strikes out at you verbally, don’t strike back; give love. If someone tries to steal from you, you can’t stop his sin of greed but you can stop him from sinning against you by freely giving to him what he’s taking. If an irresponsible coworker demands that you do his work for him, prevent it from being a sin by volunteering to do even more. This is mercy.

Does this sound like we’re enabling sin? Well, mercy is only the first step. With good and humble discernment from the Holy Spirit, the next step is to invite the other person to grow in holiness. But even in this, mercy is key, because we must draw the line against ongoing sin — motivated by love, not revenge or resentment.

Being merciful isn’t always fun. However, think of a time when you didn’t deserve God’s love or act of kindness. What did it feel like when you realized that he cared about you anyway? How did it change you? This is what your mercy can do for those who sin against you.

For a Bible Study on the Sermon on the Mount, visit https://wordbytes.org/bible-study/holy-living-2

© 2024 by Terry A. Modica

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