For They Shall Obtain Mercy!

Psalm 123:3

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.

Contempt is the sure mark of the presence of Satan just as joy is the infallible sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The psalmist is not merely whining about people holding him in contempt.  He is rejecting contempt in all its forms, including the contempt he has in his own soul for others.  The "cycle of violence" which John Paul II so often warned of is, above all, a violence of the soul that sees the sinner, not as the object of God's love and Christ's redemption, but as someone — something — beyond the pale of love.  Such contempt is wholly and entirely satanic and forms no part whatsoever of the revelation of Christ.  The fundamental lie at the heart of such contempt is the belief that, by rejecting the sinful Other, we somehow ensure our own salvation.  Christ exposes this lie in the strongest possible terms and assures us that it is only by having mercy on our enemy — that is, only by willing his good and not his damnation — that we open ourselves to the same hope.  The promise is as stark as the warning is strong: If we give no mercy, we can expect none.  If we choose to show mercy, we shall — absolutely shall — obtain mercy.  Today, show mercy.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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