It is not possible to understand love without understanding mercy. Whether we are reflecting upon our relationship with God or with another person, mercy will always play a major role. With God it is his mercy in forgiving our sins, and with others it is the mutual mercy of forgiving each other when we hurt each other. Without the ability to reconcile differences and the hurts we cause each other we will never be able to make our love for each other endure past the first fight or difficulty!

The power of mercy rests in its unmerited nature. It is precisely because it is undeserved that mercy is such a powerful witness to others. Jesus tells us that it is by our love for one another that outsiders will know that we are Christians. Christianity has the most developed understanding of love of all the major religions in that love as we understand it is inclusive of mercy. Learning to forgive one another when we are hurt by each other is essential to the Gospel message. It is much easier to hold a grudge or resent the things that people have done that have hurt us. It takes a supreme decision of love to forgive the sins of others against us!

To have mercy on someone requires us to choose to love that person regardless and even in spite of what they may have done to us – no matter how bad or hurtful what they did may have been. The problem with not forgiving someone and choosing the path of resentment is to choose to bind ourselves into the deadly spiral of sin and revenge – a spiral that has no end until someone chooses to break it with forgiveness.

Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins is all the more remarkable because of his sinlessness. This should be of great inspiration to us as we seek to follow in his footsteps. Jesus chose the path of love and forgiveness even knowing that he has never wronged anybody. Surely we can make that choice knowing how he has given himself over to death to make our choice of love more possible.

Do I tend to forgive those who sin against me or hold a grudge and seek revenge?

Holy Spirit, help me to overcome the hurt caused by the sins of others against me; help me to realize that I have sinned against others; help me to learn how to give and receive forgiveness and thus grow in love of you and my neighbor.