For me, the Beatitudes are like a road map to holiness. Jesus is encouraging us to show these qualities, that bear witness to our following of Him. He lived out these virtues, and with His grace they are within our reach. I am sure that for each one of us one Beatitude captures our attention more than another. Perhaps it is a virtue we have already ‘mastered’, or perhaps it is one that we struggle with. The Beatitude that most caught my attention was “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”. A few years ago we celebrated the ‘Year of Mercy’, which brought into focus this important Christian virtue. Mercy and forgiveness are not the same thing. Mercy is a free gift, going beyond forgiveness, as was the mercy of the father of the Prodigal Son. This is not a logical reaction, but one of great love. In our world in which 2+2=4, God reveals His mercy as 2+2=5. It is not logical, in human terms. By His mercy God restores us to our dignity as His children, as followers of His Son, and as people touched by the Holy Spirit. His mercy may surprise us, and we may even feel (in our human condition) that we are not worthy of such a great sign of love.
In the Shakespearean play The Merchant of Venice it is said “Mercy is twice blessed; it blesses the one who gives it, and the one who receives it”. How true! Just as we give that new life to another by our understanding and reconciliation – by reflecting God’s great mercy to them – we also free ourselves from a grudge and negativity, to be blessed by God in our sharing in His unconditional gift of mercy.
Bogdan Jański experienced this mercy after his lengthy conversion, returning him to the grace of God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This was a life changing moment, and confirmed for him God’s love and mercy. He was restored to the dignity that was his! May we reflect on and cherish our experiences of God’s mercy, and look for ways to share this great gift of God with others.