St Valentine_04Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36

Valentine’s Day has become a sentimentalized celebration consisting of multi-colored candy hearts, chocolates, cards, flowers and dinner at a fancy restaurant. Is there more to love than this sugary, sappy worldly definition?

God’s idea of love is much different. God “is merciful…abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 103:8). He loves us so much that He sent His beloved Son to die as expiation for our sins. Even in our sins, He loves us with an everlasting love (Cf. Jer 31:3). Imitate the heavenly Father by abounding in merciful love.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:3-7 RSVCE

Have you ever been like the Pharisees in the story of the adulterous woman? Have you passed judgment on anyone for their waywardness from the commands of God? How about your spouse? Have you passed judgment on his or her actions? It is so easy for us to condemn others for their sins. We appoint ourselves judge and jury, condemning the actions of others, withholding mercy from the sinner. Are we better than Jesus? Do we have the power to judge and condemn the sinner? When we elevate ourselves to such a lofty position, we are breaking the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3). When we judge and condemn, we are making ourselves higher than God.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23

All have sinned. All fall short of the glory of God. Sin is the human condition since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. When we judge and condemn, we are calling down judgment upon ourselves. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6:12). This is a pretty serious declaration. We are so quick to judge others for their sins, withholding mercy, yet expecting mercy when we have sinned. How then are we to act towards those who disregard the commands of God?

The Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

Sacred Heart_02Jesus is our model. He showed mercy to the adulterous woman. As Jesus showed mercy, so are we to show mercy to the sinner. Mercy is an act of love. It flows from a heart filled with the love of God. If you have ever condemned a sinner and withheld mercy, repent and seek God’s forgiveness. In addition, go to the sinner, repent for your own sinfulness, asking for their forgiveness. Condemnation tears down relationships while mercy and forgiveness build them up. Nowhere is this more important than in the family. This is where we learn about God. If we are not acting lovingly in our families by forgiving offenses and showing mercy, we are teaching a false message about the love of God.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7

If your heart has been hardened towards the sinner, ask God to soften it. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the fruits of the spirit…“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). It is only when we live a life consecrated to the heart of Jesus that we have the power to overcome our sinfulness and demonstrate the fruits of the spirit in our thoughts, words and actions.

I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:12-14

Mercy and forgiveness is the path to reconciliation. The world views mercy as a weakness, a character flaw. Most extract a “pound of flesh” from those who have failed to live up to their expectations. Love and forgiveness is what sets the Christian apart from the world. We are called by God to be ministers of mercy in our home, work place and in the world.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

Love the sinner, hate the sin. That is the way of Christ. The world has it backwards, “hate the sinner and love the sin” or so it seems. It is all too easy to fall into this trap. Spend time during the next week contemplating the mercy God has shown you in your sinfulness. Meditate upon all that Christ has done for you in dying on the cross for your salvation. Ask God to fill you with the same love and mercy. May you be His instrument of grace in a fallen world. By this, they will know the Father.

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1:2

May the grace, peace and divine mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be yours now and always.