In reply to Peter’s question about how many times it is necessary to forgive, Jesus says: “I do not say seven times, but seventy times seven times.”
As we can see in Sacred Scripture, mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action toward us. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.
Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.
Saint John Paul II pushed for a more urgent proclamation and witness to mercy in the contemporary world: “The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy — the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer — and when she brings people close to the sources of the Saviour’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser.”
The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.
The Lord Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain our goal: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:37-38)
What a beautiful thing that the Church begins her daily prayer with the words, “O God come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.” The assistance we ask for is already the first step of God’s mercy toward us. Day after day, touched by His compassion, we also can become compassionate toward others.
During this Jubilee, the Church will be called even more to heal … wounds, to assuage them with the oil of consolation, to bind them with mercy and cure them with solidarity and vigilant care.
Let us rediscover the corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.
In Sacred Scripture, justice is conceived essentially as the faithful abandonment of oneself to God’s will.
Jesus speaks several times of the importance of faith over and above the observance of the law. “Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:13).”
Mercy is not opposed to justice but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe.
Saint Augustine says: “It is easier for God to hold back anger than mercy.” And so it is. God’s anger lasts but a moment, his mercy forever.