Mercy is not weakness but strength. Hopefully we can discover the many facets of this virtue throughout the year. It includes the works of mercy that Christians are called to integrate in their lives. Following are experiences from which to draw inspiration.
Cooling off … and starting over
My husband and I have been married for 40 years now, and we have had lots of moments to start over and forgive one another. I am from an Irish background, and it is difficult for me to always express what’s in my heart. My husband is from an Italian background, and he can have quite a temper at times.
We had one of those moments when I was taking him to work on a Monday morning. We got into a heated argument, and he shouted some very unkind words. In that moment I was so hurt and angry that I decided to leave him at the store and let him walk the rest of the way to work to “cool off.”
I drove back home with a heavy heart, and I started to worry if he had made it to work. So I called him and told him I was sorry and asked him if we could continue our discussion in the evening when he came home from work.
He also apologized to me, saying that I was right to let him walk to work, allowing him to regain his composure. He immediately said, “I should have never spoken to you that way.”
I can truly say that since we always try to have mercy and respect for one another, when we do have disagreements or arguments I can hardly go on until we have worked through our differences or misunderstandings. It has become easier over the years to forgive one another more quickly. Many times we fail, but we try to see one another with new eyes, since God also forgives and sees us anew.
— Janet Cordiviola
Left to go it alone
In my everyday life as full-time student, I recently had a meaningful encounter with mercy. I am taking a course in microeconomics, and we were assigned partners to work with on a group project. I have always been a very dedicated student and this project was especially important to me.
The day before the project presentations, my group and I arranged a meeting to finalize ours. As the meeting began, I asked one of my partners where his information was, and he laughed as he said that he had not done any work. Diligently for the next hour, I did his research and helped him to understand it. I left the meeting that night with faith it would work out.
The next morning dawned and the presentation could not have gone any worse. My partner arrived completely intoxicated. I tried to remain positive and confident myself, but as the presentation went on I became more and more anxious. I was barely holding it together as my professor asked increasingly challenging questions that I was left to answer alone. I left the class crying and defeated.
Over the next hours and days, I had to deal with the anger that I felt towards my partner for this great disappointment. Everyone was encouraging me to talk to my professor: tell him who had really done the work, tell him that my partner was drunk, tell him that it wasn’t my fault.
I truly considered this. It would have been so easy to take the grade and the glory for myself.
But the more all my classmates told me this was my only option, the more I felt certain that it was not. I heard the voice of my conscience whisper, “is this the loving thing? The merciful thing?”
It was then that I decided that the only thing I could do would be to show mercy and forgiveness. I did not search this point alone — I was helped by my father and a good friend, who gave me the strength and courage I needed to be merciful.
A few weeks later, I got my grade, and I received a 92. I was stunned. Matthew 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
— Meagan Curtis
Instead of bitterness
For several years, my brother had been looking for someone to marry. When he was finally in a serious relationship and got married, we were all very happy, but it wasn’t easy for our family to understand his choice.
His spouse came from a different background — her taste and her values were very different from our “family culture.” Where we as a family were generous, she was careful with every penny. We were all avid readers and enjoyed good discussions about what we read; she instead liked more light entertainment.
However, I saw that they were happy together, and I tried to build bridges between her and my family. And it worked; everybody accepted his choice and welcomed her into our family.
After they had been married for five years, she finally got pregnant. When the baby was born premature, we all prayed, and after a few weeks of struggle and fear, the little boy was fine.
Soon after she was discharged from the hospital, my sister-in-law said that she could not live with my brother anymore. He suffered deeply and tried everything to save the marriage, but she wanted
to get divorced.
Later he found out that the child was not his.
Eventually he found another fiancée and started over, but the experience left deep scars in his soul — his happy, optimistic personality had changed.
Five years later, when he was 46, he died suddenly from an aneurysm. I had to organize the funeral and the estate.
One year later, when I finally sold the house, I went through his things to see what I would take with me. A beautiful picture of his former wife fell into my hands, as did some love letters she had written to him. Tears of wrath came into my eyes: she was the one who had hurt him so deeply, and after that experience my brother had never been the same! With her betrayal, everything took a
I tore her picture and the letters into pieces and threw them into the waste basket.
I was shocked by my reaction. How could I have held on to these grudges after so many years?
I understood that I had to do something. A phrase of the Bible came into my mind: “Blessed are the merciful…” (Mt 5:7).
I stepped down from the ladder and knelt down. I decided to forgive her with all my heart, and I prayed for her, her son and her new family. After that, a heavy weight was lifted from my soul. I felt love instead of bitterness.