“With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” This responsorial psalm is derived from Psalm 130, which has the trembling words “If Thou, O Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand?” In other words, if You keep a record of sins, who could ever make it to heaven?
How true. We are committed to not sinning, yet we sin. God is first merciful because we all sin, despite our desire and efforts not to. We don’t deserve His mercy, but He grants it freely and always. We don’t deserve redemption, but God desires us to be redeemed.
God’s foremost posture with us is mercy.
As a Christian, I am mandated to be the same. I must insert myself in these words of the Psalm, so that it can be said by anyone about me: “With Anthony, there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” And so must all of you. Can you honestly say “everyone finds mercy with me?”
What is true love or deep friendship between two people if there is not foremost a posture of mercy between them? It is a house of straw. When the Big Bad Wolf comes along, he need only blow it down to get to the three little pigs. So it is with couples or friends who have problems and allow the strong winds that shake their relationship to tear down the home they have built.
In my view, the idea of being home is the essence of what love is. This is why you feel you are home as long as you are with the person you love, no matter where you both are. Or why you long to get back to that person when you are apart from him or her. That is home.
This sense of home is one of profound safety, warmth, comfort, and peace. It is a firm knowledge that no effort of the Big Bad Wolf can blow down your house. Your whole being rests because no matter what happens, the foundation of the home is mercy and forgiveness. Your human condition to fail is accepted and welcome.
Isn’t this ultimately what heaven is to be? Heaven is our only true and lasting home. Our time on this earth is a brief one, but it provides us the opportunity to experience our eternal home while in this world in order to help us be fashioned into the saints we are to become.
Our entire life on earth is as a sinner trying to become a saint. But too many people want us to be saints at all times without much (if any) room for failure. Many who are dating and seeking the right person, seem to always come up short because, ultimately, they discover that the people they date are flawed or have too much potential to hurt them.
God, of course, is the only one who can fulfill this high expectation. God is pure love and incapable of anything that is not good for us. Yet, we still foolishly pursue finding in another person what only God can give. God is home. With Him you find complete safety, security, warmth, welcome, comfort and peace. With human beings, not so much.
However, we are called to be like God, and we are provided the grace to do so. Unfortunately, I think too many take this call to mean that we must never sin. It’s clear that God is realistic about us and knows we will and do sin, or else Jesus would never have bothered instituting the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we go to Confession, our sins are obliterated and we are given a clean slate.
How many of us can say we do that for those who hurt us? That we are so like God that we provide mercy to all who wrong us? This is the aspect of being like God that is much more attainable to us than the living without sin: being merciful to others.
Jesus taught us to ask God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. In other words, don’t bother forgiving me, Lord, until I first forgive others. He also taught us in the Beatitudes that “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
It is mercy that is the heart of the law of love, because it is the heart of God’s essence. Essentially, God loves us so much that He welcomes us home, just as Jesus taught with the Prodigal Son.
Home is where the heart is. That saying is correct. I would specific that it is where the Heart of Christ is. As we fuse our heart to the Heart of Christ, we live a love that makes us attractive, welcoming, home.
The misunderstanding about modern dating and those who seek to find love is that people want to find someone who makes them feel good and never hurts them. The truth is they are seeking to find home; a place where they can be who they are and not have to worry about their inevitable moments of failure and sin. They want to find that love of God in the person they desire to give themselves to.
Sadly, because they cannot find someone who is first merciful, they cannot find home, and they settle for what they can get in all manner of distorted views of love. Thus, we have a disaster of bad relationships, bad marriages, bad friendships.
Every person deserves a good home. When they fall or sin or hurt someone, they need mercy though they may not deserve it. In the second part of this reflection on what it means to be merciful in relationships, I will address the problem of being too hurt to be merciful and be that home, the harm that comes from rejecting the call to mercy, and how this ultimately applies to finding and living true love.
In the meantime, meditate on the words of the Psalm, “With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption” and where it says “the Lord” insert your own name, and consider with Jesus how true this is when it comes to your dealings with others.