But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love He has for us, Ephesians 2:4
My big brother Jim was a great guy! I have so many memories of our childhood; and like all brothers and sisters close in age, it should come as no surprise that most of those memories are of great times and events, and others…well…not so much! Jim was tall and strong and he absolutely LOVED to catch me by surprise and grab my hands and start a game of “mercy”. The rules were simple, bend back your opponent’s hands until they cried “mercy” and then you’d stop. Strange game I know but he did it every chance he got. Jim was competitive and beating me was quick work when I was little but as I got older and he began to realize I had inherited our mother’s huge, strong hands and long fingers I wasn’t such a quick win and he had to take it up a notch when I beat him a time or two. After I had a taste of victory, I wasn’t as eager to spit out that cry for “mercy” to end the game. I giggle when I remember the last Christmas we were all together, I was 20 and he was 22 and we were still playing that stupid game.
One thing I could always count on from Jim was immediate mercy when I called out the word. He didn’t take a second to honor the request, he stopped instantly. “Mercy” was a game played by lots of folks when I was growing up (maybe it was a Kansas thing??) but not every opponent honored the request for mercy immediately but Jim did and that always stuck with me. For Catholics all over the world, the Sunday after Easter is known as Divine Mercy Sunday and it’s a day we celebrate the immediate, guaranteed and undeserved Mercy of the God who loves us. We’re gong to dwell on the topic for a few weeks because our world is crying out for God’s love and mercy. I read somewhere that GRACE is a gift freely given by God for things we don’t deserve and MERCY is a gift freely given in place of what we do deserve. Thank goodness! If God chose to discipline me with penalties and punishments for all my sin and shortcomings I’d never get ahead…I think He knew that and that’s why He invented mercy! In fact, His Divine Mercy is even more immediate than that shown by my brother Jim in that silly game we used to play.
In order to better understand the gift of Divine Mercy, I’ve borrowed some words from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception website…may their words help your heart understand this beautiful gift. The ABC’s make it easy to understand… A – Ask for His mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and the whole world. B– Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
Lucky us!!! How blessed are we to receive the gift of His mercy…but wait…if you read carefully you noticed the parts that said the gift is free but it comes with an expectation! The expectation is that we must extend His mercy to those around us! YUP…that means to those who have wronged us and hurt us and haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain. I suppose it’s a little like the way we are with God; often hurting him, not living up to our end of the bargain and doing dozens of assorted “wrongs” a week. I’m thankful for the memory of my brother Jim and our countless games of “mercy” because it was a wee little sneak peek into the beautiful revelation of the Divine Mercy of our Father.
A Seed To Plant: Pray over the Mercy ABC’s and jot down those things you need to ask God’s mercy for and then make a list of those whom you will allow His mercy to flow through you and land on!
Blessings on your day!
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