The Gospel today is trying to tell us what the essence of Christianity is. Many people think it is a matter of just fulfilling certain obligations like going to Mass on Sunday, being honest at work and providing for our families. Still others who are moralistic think of Christianity as a list of do’s and don’ts. Still others think that to be Christian means to suffer a lot and to be generous to the poor. The truth is, it is all that and more.
Basically, to be Christian is to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. What is mercy? For the Jews, mercy means to have compassion on others, especially the weak, the oppressed and the downtrodden. For them, another aspect of mercy is the tenderness that God feels for his children, for us. God’s mercy has been shown to sinners time and time again. His love is always meant to lift us up from our failures, our faults and our betrayals and put us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Only God can love like this. Only He can show this kind of mercy.
Yet we are called to be merciful like God. We can do this if we understand and experience God’s immense love for men. We must be connected to Him as branches are to a vine. We must pray of ten and receive the sacraments worthily. Lastly, we must truly believe that our mission on earth is to be loving and merciful as God is. It is possible to be merciful, even to those who hurt or persecute us. For this, we have Jesus as our example and model.