There is a tenderness in mercy in all its definitions, a tenderness that beguiles and confounds justice and relieves fear. Mercy belongs not to kindness as much as it does to love, the kind of love that embraces rather than denies reality. Mercy lives with forgiveness and begs for openness of heart. Mercy is not blissful denial or attempted tolerance. Mercy dances with Hope, with Promise, with Possibility. Mercy admits change and trusts in the more. Mercy is a trust that Goodness exists in, beyond, and for one another. Mercy takes a chance.
Mercy meets the deepest darkest moments of hurt and failure, grief and pain and remorse. Mercy acknowledges flaws and errors, mistakes and choices with an unerring eye. It neither excuses nor celebrates wrong. Instead, Mercy reaches past the experience to the soul of the person. Mercy remembers the contours of humanity and the otherness of God. Mercy sees with crisp vision and invites the recipient to see, too, those contours and that otherness.
Mercy is the great antidote to revenge, to vengeance and to judgment. Mercy is an awareness of the incredible power that lives in human words and actions. It is the ambassador who whispers, “You are the hands and heart of Christ” with the acute sense that the words belong to every human being, to every moment.
Mercy means daring to step past the brokenness into becoming, to discover that anger is genuine, merited, fair and real. But living is about Mercy more than anger, about constancy and forgiveness, purpose and function. Mercy means allowing and being more and better than who and how we are, allowing the sliver of Divine Light within to find a window to the world in word and choice and action.
Mercy is enfolded within the annals of the complicated and curious history of Catholicism. It glistens from the words of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the merciful…” and it beckons to each of us. Mercy makes a house a home and a heart a harbor. Mercy.