A WOMAN was caught in adultery. The scribes and Pharisees then dragged her to Christ to test him if he would follow the Mosaic law of stoning such woman. He just kept quiet, until after a time he told those around that anyone who has not sinned may cast the first stone.
Then one by one they left, until the woman was left alone. Christ asked her, “Has no one condemned you?” “No one,” was the answer. Then Christ told her that neither would he, and dismissed her, telling her to sin no more. (cfr. Jn 8,1-11)
It’s a beautiful gospel episode that shows us how merciful God is. But we may ask, why is God so merciful, and why should we try to be as merciful as God is?
I believe that the answer is none other than that we are all children of God. Regardless of how we live our life, God will always love us and will do everything to save us. He may be angry at our misdeeds and sins, but it is well known that his anger would only be for a moment, but his mercy is forever. (cfr. Ps 30,5)
To some extent, we actually show mercy at the mistakes of others. But we are notorious for having a short-lived kind of mercy and understanding. Not only that. We often are choosy as to whom and how to show mercy. Our brand of mercy is usually not of the same kind as that of God.
The challenge we have is how to cultivate this attitude and virtue of mercy that channels the very mercy of God. That’s because if we are meant to be like God since we are his image and likeness, children of his, we should be as merciful as God is. Thus, Christ said it very clearly, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk 6,36)
I imagine that everyday we have to make an effort to develop this virtue of mercy. Anyway, everyday we are given opportunities to practice some signs of mercy, growing in it at least a little, since we cannot avoid contending with all sorts of trials and challenges that are caused by others.
We ourselves commit some mistakes and are in need of mercy also. We have to be wary then when we feel we are superior to others or that we are so very saintly as to lead us not to feel the need to ask for mercy and to be merciful also to others.
That is why we also need to train our spiritual faculties, our intelligence and will, to develop that attitude of Christ of not wanting to condemn anyone but rather to be always merciful. Like Christ and with Christ, we should try our best to do everything to save a person who may be wrong in something or who may have some problems and difficulties. We have to have the same attitude even when it is us who would be the victim of the wrongdoing of another. For this, we have to train ourselves to have the same charity and mercy that Christ had for all of us. In fact, it is the charity that Christ commanded us to live. “A new command I give you,” he said. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13,34-35) By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail March 20-26, 2023 issue)