What a great feeling it is when someone gives you the benefit of the doubt! The world would be a much more comfortable place to live in if we would only learn to cut one another some slack.
Jesus taught many lessons in the Beatitudes (from Latin ‘beatus’ meaning ‘blessed’). These well known verses in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 5:3-12, describe characteristics which Jesus looks for in His children, and promises to reward in Heaven.
The closer we live in the heart of Jesus, the more these characteristics will be found in us. The more time we spend worshipping and loving Jesus, lingering long in His presence, the more like Him we will become. The saying, “birds of a feather flock together” is only too familiar to parents — how we shudder when our offspring fall into bad company! They become just like those they hang around with. So it is with us as we spend more and more time with Jesus. We will gradually be transformed into His likeness by the Spirit of the Lord.
Do we only too readily judge one another, or secretly criticise in our heart or mind? Do we falsely accuse, gossip or cast a slur? If you are saying “Ouch!” in your heart— so am I, and so are we all, if we are honest.
Every one of us stands greatly in need of the mercy of God. In Matthew 5:7 Jesus teaches “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” What incentive there is here for us to show mercy to one another when people are unkind, unfeeling or judgmental towards us.
I have been greatly blessed and challenged reading the Diary of Saint Faustina (1905-1938). Jesus appeared to her on a number of occasions, imparting to her much vital teaching on the Mercy of God and telling her to share what she was learning. In Notebook 1 in the Diary, Saint Faustina wrote some beautiful prayers, asking God to help her to be merciful to her neighbour.
“I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbour. Help me, O Lord that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbours’ souls and come to their rescue.
“Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbours’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moaning.
“Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbour, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
“Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbours and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
“Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbour, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbour.
“Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful, so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbour. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own sufferings in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.
“You, Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy. The first: The act of mercy, of whatever kind. The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words. The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even where I cannot reach out physically.
“O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for You can do all things.”
A song by Julie True: The Mercy Zone