By Sarah Damm
In this Year of Mercy, I wonder how I experience God’s mercy. It is difficult to wrap my head around something so profoundly miraculous, because often, I feel so unworthy of it.
But as I ponder the Scriptures, I cannot deny the reality of God’s mercy. Pope Francis explains it well when he describes mercy as patience.
“Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy.” (March 17, 2013 Angelus)
Think of those we read about in the Scriptures, who truly encounter Jesus’ patience, His mercy. Their stories show us that if Jesus is patient with them, He is patient (merciful) with us, too.
There is the Samaritan woman, who meets Jesus at the well (John 4:5-42). Even when she reveals her past to Him, He doesn’t turn away. He is patient with her, and His love transforms her life.
There is Martha, who is anxious and actually complains to Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus tells her that Mary has “chosen the better part,” but he does so in a way that shows loving patience. Can’t you just hear it when He says her name, “Martha, Martha”? And through this encounter with Jesus’ patient mercy, she is renewed. Martha is quite a different woman when we meet her again (John 11:1-45).
There is the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Jesus’ entire demeanor during His interaction with her is patient, gentle, and kind. “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.’” I imagine her life is never the same again, after her encounter with Christ’s mercy.
As we enter the Triduum—Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection—Jesus’ patience and mercy pour out from the pages of Scripture. He is patient with the apostles when they scatter and hide. He is patient with Pilate when he interrogates Him. He is patient with the Roman soldiers who brutally beat Him up. He is patient with the weeping woman. Jesus’ very suffering and death on the Cross are the fullness of God’s patience and mercy!
We must remember that when we sin, when we complain, when we fail, the patience, love, and mercy that Jesus showed countless times in Scripture are ready to be lavished upon us, too. Mercy is a gift, freely given to us by the Giver of All. Are we open to receiving it?
“He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart. ‘Great is God’s mercy,’ says the Psalm … Let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!” —Pope Francis