How often have we heard these words or even expressed them ourselves in moments of anger: “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth”, and “Even Steven!”, or maybe, “He will get it, but even worse!” Still another, “Let us give him some of his own medicine!”   Or when something evil visits him, you blurt out gleefully: “He deserved it, and worse than that!” Pagan culture expresses it this way: “What goes around comes around or it is his karma!”

All of the above sayings articulate a basic attitude that much of the world has embraced, hook, line, and sinker—that of seeking out revenge on those who have done us harm.   The Italians have a pithy maxim: “La dolce vendetta!”--- in English, “The sweet revenge!”

Being disciples and followers of Our Lord Savior and Jesus Christ, these pagan and vindictive aphorisms cannot be inherited, embraced and much less lived out in our lives!  The reason is simple: JESUS CHRIST IS OUR MERCIFUL GOD!

God is slow to anger and rich in mercy and forgiveness.  We, on the contrary, once we are slighted or wounded in word, actions, or misinterpreted, our anger ignites, brooding sets in, resentments grow and all too often, due to lack of forgiveness, hatred takes possession of our souls and spiritual poison permeates our whole being!  

Both Blessed Pope John Paul II and the first saint canonized by Pope John Paul II in the new millennium, on Mercy Sunday, Saint Faustina Kowalska, are modern heralds of the great mercy of God.   They are beacons of hope and shining torches of enthusiasm, especially for their writings, and to their living out, the greatness of God’s infinite mercy!

St. Faustina suffered much. Often misunderstood, criticized mercilessly, seen by many even in her own convent as a fanatic, a fake, and a nobody, this great saint, instead of harboring thoughts of resentment and revenge, she would simply pray for these individuals and forgive them from her heart, living out what she was commanded out of obedience to write in  the DIARY OF MERCY IN MY SOUL.
One of the most beautiful prayers ever written on mercy can be found in the Diary, # 163.   This inspired prayer summarizes how we should be an incarnation of God’s infinite mercy in our lives by using all of our senses as instruments of God’s infinite mercy. Our eyes to see others with the merciful gaze of Jesus; our ears to be used to hear God’s mercy; our tongue – never to criticize or speak negatively about anybody—but to praise God and express mercy to all. But especially may our hearts be filled with the most sublime sentiments of mercy towards all.  

Immediately after the prayer, the Diary invites all to live out mercy by practicing at least one of act of mercy very day.  It can be one of three types: 1) A kind word, 2) a kind action (take the Corporal or Spiritual works of mercy as a model, taken from Mt 25) 3) Finally, if word or action is difficult, then we can always pray for somebody--- this too is part of living out the call to be an Incarnation of God’s mercy in the world!   When all is said and done, on the judgment day God’s mercy will be our triumph and our victory. Therefore, no time to waste because life is all too short; let us start to live out mercy in our lives. Opportunities are not lacking only good will on our part!

Blessed Pope John Paul II represents another icon of God’s mercy.  This great man of God preached mercy, wrote on the doctrine of mercy, but especially he lived it out in flesh and blood visible to the whole world!

Imbued and blessed by the spirit of God, a peoples’ person, blessing the little children and relishing being available to the whole world, on that May 13th, 1981, the gun-shot was heard and suddenly Pope John Paul II fell back.  He was shot! Almost seeming hopeless the situation and his life hanging from a thread, prayers of intercession and mercy ascended like fragrant aroma to the throne of the Blessed Trinity.

God’s loving mercy triumphed! After a long operation and the removal of an enormous bullet from his stomach and a long process of convalescence, the Merciful Vicar of Christ, resumed his task of Successor of Peter.

Once again referring to mercy, Christmas Eve that same year, Pope John Paul II made a key visit: to the prison where his attempted assassin was incarcerated. The essential message of this extraordinary historical visit was that of Mercy!  Pope John Paul II desired, from the depths of his merciful heart, to express mercy in person to the man who planned to end his life!
Photos, videos, You-tubes all portray Pope John Paul II speaking to Agca, listening attentively to him, and even embracing him.  What more clear image of the Parable of the Prodigal Son could exist than this emotionally-charged and heart-rending scene of the Holy Father--- representing God the Father, and Agca, hopefully, the Prodigal son.

Not too long after this incident, Pope John Paul II would promulgate one of his greatest masterpieces on God’s mercy, the encyclical “Dives Misericordia”—God as rich is Mercy!  Before penning this spiritual masterpiece, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II lived out mercy in his own flesh and blood!

Henri Nouwen, a renowned modern spiritual writer, has also written on God’s infinite mercy. His masterpiece is titled “The Prodigal Son”.  On the front cover of this brilliant literary accomplishment, can be seen and contemplated the artistic masterpiece of the Prodigal Son, painted by Rembrandt.

One of the essential messages of this novel is that eventually every one of us is called to be the person of the Father of the Prodigal Son.   If we have indeed experienced the mercy of the Father—taste and see the goodness of the Lord—then we are called to be transformed by mercy into being the loving, kind, and merciful Father of the Prodigal Son.

May these words of the Diary of Mercy in my Soul of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, encourages us to be Incarnations of God’s mercy in a cold, calculating and all too often merciless world!   Jesus challenges Faustina to trust and mercy and so does he challenge you and me!

The graces I grant you are not for you alone, but for a great number of souls as well… Any your heart is My constant dwelling place, despite the misery that you are. I unite Myself with you, take away your misery and give you mercy. I perform works of mercy in every soul. The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my mercy. My mercy is confirmed in every work of my hands. He who trusts in my mercy will not perish, for all his affairs are Mine, and his enemies will be shattered at the base of MY footstool.”   (The words of Jesus to St Faustina, Diary # 723).