Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is a theme relevant to Catholics as they are called to be a disciple of Jesus and be a part of act towards peace and mercy. In 2015 it was declared as the year of mercy by the church because this is a key component and trait that the church has. Most saints and doctors of the church have demonstrated mercy but the person who exhibited the biggest acts of mercy was Jesus, even as the people crucified him on the cross Jesus asked God to give them mercy. In daily life, mercy can be put into action which is asked by our Heavenly Father through three steps. The first is to know what God and the Bible actually means showing mercy and the importance of it, the second is putting this knowledge into daily activity in a wide variety of ways and finally mercy can only be shown in the world through prayer and also by remembering not to look at the reward by doing the act but trying to make it a habit.
Being called to show mercy in the world is a prevalent theme in catholicism but many do not know the meaning and reasoning behind this task. The definition of mercy is to show compassion and give forgiveness to a particular act but what the Bible says is, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”(Matthew 6:14). As stated in this Bible quote by being called to show mercy first a person must learn to forgive. One of the major aspects in an act of showing mercy is to forgive and by forgiving others, the Heavenly Father will also forgive the sins of people. In simple terms what forgiving others does is it has a ‘knock-on effect’ on how as a person is judged by God, an example of a Saint who experienced this ‘knock-on effect’ is St Paul, he was a man of bad ways and did many dreadful acts towards Christians but the conversion towards Christianity had a ‘knock-on effect’ of his sins being forgiven and also by him receiving the power to preach the word of God. Again this reward and consequences of following the duty of being merciful and not is present in the beatitudes. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”(Matthew 5:7). What John Piper says this beatitude means is, “in the age to come when we meet God face to face, the people who will receive mercy from him are people who have been merciful”(Piper, 1986). So as stated the roots of mercy are from the Bible and it is said through the Bible that it is compulsory for people to show mercy if they want mercy shown by the father. The importance of showing mercy towards other people is that it will come down to this trait as what God looks at the end to decide if a person should be forgiven or not. What Chuck Smith states about the importance of carrying the trait of having mercy is, “Whether we have the gift of showing mercy or not, as we will find in our lesson, exercising mercy is not really an option for it is a command that we be merciful”(Smith, 2016). The importance of being merciful is not that it is an option for people to follow if they want to but it is a command or an order made by God to people and it has to be followed through putting it into a habit.
As the definition and importance of mercy are understood then it has to be put into action. As Catholics it is a duty to look out for where this mercy can be demonstrated with values like compassion and love. A simple act of forgiving someone for sin or an unethical act done against is a way that the theme of mercy can be present in one’s life. A Saint who lived this way and forgave sins by understanding God’s wanting from the use of mercy is Maria Goretti. Although she knew who had tried to kill her she asked God to forgive him and look after him. A challenge that faces society in exhibiting the mercy and compassion said in the Bible is fear of judgement by society. What the bible says about this is, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment”(James 2:13). This Bible quote points out to the reader that an act of mercy is more powerful than any judgment that will be faced in this century through society. Mercy does not have to be just forgiving someone, it can also be doing a good deed because after stepping in a person’s shoes the pain they feel is felt inside. This feeling may take place when a beggar is on the streets asking for money or when a person is lost and don’t know where to go, as Catholics the duty that is assigned is to step into their lives and make a change. As Catholics it is more important to learn what God asks but it is more important to put this request from God into action and this can be done through acts in present society.
It is more significant to pray to receive the power of mercy and also to grant other people mercy. The Bible says, “You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfil your vows”(Job 22:27). This quote says that all the prayers from people will be answered and that the vows asked will be given. What this Bible quote is saying in the context of giving mercy to people is to pray for people that may have committed a sin and this prayer will be answered by God. There are many hidden definitions to this quote but John Gill says, “and this is to be done in a supplicating, entreating way, as the word signifies; not pleading merit, but mercy, not presenting prayers and supplications for a man’s own righteousness’ sake, but for the Lord’s mercy’s sake…”(Gill, 2015). As people of this age there is a wanting in most people to ask God for objects that can be used for the good of themselves but John Gill says the prayers should be offered to ask for mercy. It is very important to not overlook on the just the rewards from deeds of mercy done towards other people but it has to be done as an order. The Bible says, “Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”(Luke 12:33-34). Here God is telling the readers to drop all they have and not be worried about their possessions and rewards because when you look at the rewards and possesions a person’s heart will be there instead of doing their duty whole mindedly. To not have the heart searching for the reward but for an opportunity to serve all that has to be done is make serving a habit and this can be done through performing the acts of mercy and service frequently. It is very important to pray to receive the power of mercy and also to not look at the reward but opportunities to serve because that is what the Heavenly Father wants.
Being merciful like the Heavenly Father is a highly important topic in a catholic person’s life and this has to be achieved through finding the meaning and importance of showing mercy, using this knowledge to perform tasks in society using these acts and also to not look at the reward but at the opportunity to serve and making it a habit to show mercy in society.