We have to be merciful

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

TO be merciful is a necessity for us. That’s because to be merciful likens us to God himself who created us in his image and likeness. Mercy is the ultimate expression of charity which is the very essence of God himself and is meant also for us.

This truth of our faith can be verified in that gospel parable about a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. (cfr. Mt 18,21-19,1) As the parable went, the king forgave a servant who owed him a lot of money because the servant begged for understanding. But the same servant did not do the same with his fellow servant who owed him a small amount.

The parable ended with these words: “Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” (Mt 18,34-35)

This truth of our faith is also reinforced in that prayer that Christ himself taught his disciples, the Our Father. A part of it is most relevant in guiding us in our relationship with one another. It’s when Christ said, “Forgive us our sins (trespasses) as we forgive those who sin (trespass) against us.”

As if to underscore the importance of this point, Christ reiterated: “For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.” (Mt 6,14-15) It’s clear therefore that we can only be forgiven if we also forgive others.

We have to be clear that his injunction is meant for everyone, and not only for a few whom we may consider to be religiously inclined. That’s why when asked how many times we should forgive, he said not only seven times, but seventy times seven, meaning always.

That’s also why he easily forgave the woman caught in adultery. And to those whom he cured of their illnesses, it was actually the forgiveness of their sins that he was more interested in.

To top it all, Christ allowed himself to die on the cross as a way to forgive all of our sins, and to convert our sins through his resurrection as a way to our own redemption. What he did for us he also expects, nay, commands that we also do for everybody else.

If Christ can offer forgiveness those who crucified him—and there can be no worse evil than killing Christ who is God—why do we find it hard to offer forgiveness to others?

It is presumed that all of us sin one way or another. That’s why St. John said: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn 1,8) I am sure that our personal experience can bear that out easily.

No matter how saintly we try ourselves to be, sin always manages to come in because of our wounded humanity and the many temptations within and around us. As St. John said, we have to contend with three main enemies: our own wounded flesh, the devil and the world corrupted by sin.

The awareness of this truth is not meant to depress us but rather to keep us humble and always feeling in need of God. We should be wary when we would just depend solely on our own resources to tackle this predicament. We need God.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com