September 24th is the feast day of Our Lady of Mercy. This title of the Blessed Virgin comes from a religious order founded by St. Raymond of Pennafort and King James of Aragon that sought to liberate slaves that had been kidnapped by pirates on the sea. The most interesting thing about the Mercedarians is that the friars were willing to save themselves into slavery to save those that were in slavery. Isn’t that amazing charity? I most certainly think so.
Yet on this feast of Our Lady of Mercy, we should also think about what mercy means. Every Sunday at Mass, whether in Latin or English, we often hear the words: Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy), Christe Eleison (Christ have mercy). Mercy is a most beautiful word because it speaks to us about other words such as forgiveness, kindness, and justice.
According to the dictionary, mercy means kindness or forbearance with one that we cannot stand. Yet true mercy does not merely extend to those that we cannot stand or those that we know, but to all mankind. God’s mercy is like that. He forbears with us and forgives us because He loves us without any condition. We must love Him in exactly the same way because of what He has done for us in the Person of His Son.
Being merciful can be a problem sometimes and some people see it as a stumbling block. Yet what would we do if we saw someone beaten up on the road and bleeding to death? Would we walk away or show him mercy? In our day and age, there are countless people like this all over the world. All of them need someone to help them, look after them, clothe them, and love them. We may not sell ourselves into slavery for our fellow man, but we are called by God to show the same mercy that He has shown toward us.
Remember that Our Lord said that the merciful are blessed because they obtain mercy. If we care for others, therefore, we will be cared for by God. Yet this care is not merely quid pro quo. It is something much more than we can fathom or understand. Indeed, being merciful is what made so many saints into great saints.
Think of Fr. Damien working among the lepers of Molokai or Mother Teresa working among the dying in Calcutta. Both of them performed great works of mercy for those that they saw were in need and God did not sit idly by. He rewarded them greatly. Perhaps, not in this life, but in the next.
Therefore, let us pray to Our Lord for mercy on ourselves, our country, and our world. Let us ask His Mother that she help us to understand what mercy is.
Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!
Father Damien, pray for us!
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!