So, I’m supposed to like it when someone slings lies and twisted facts at me?” I asked Don during our spiritual direction session. “I’m supposed to be happy and let liars continue their abuse, continue to let them talk smack behind my back?”
Don looked at me with gentle eyes as I continued my angry rant.
“I hold a card I can play. I have every right to play it. It could right the wrong.” I paced the floor, my thoughts plummeting out. “Jesus had a card in his hand too. He could’ve asked the Father to smite his enemies, pull Jesus out of the death trap they had laid for him. Had he played his card, everything might have been different.” My hands curled into tight fists “Maybe Jesus got it wrong.”
“I’m sorry for the suffering you’re going through,” Don said. “It’s not fair. You have every right to be angry. It’s justified anger. But what you do with that anger is where transformation can begin.”
I collapsed into a ball of tears, gripping my hands to my head. The tears became a balm. “It’s another life lesson, right, Don? Tell me what I need to know.”
Don then unfolded the life lesson I needed to hear—the “Be-Attitude” I needed to apply to my life. Here’s what he said.
“In Matthew 5:7, Jesus teaches, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’
“Mercy is a quality or virtue that allows us to offer grace towards someone who’s in a position of vulnerability, distress, or has committed a wrongdoing. It’s about extending kindness and understanding, often without expecting anything in return.
“When we show mercy towards others by forgiving them and offering help or support when appropriate, we reflect God’s love and bring healing into broken relationships.
“Mercy goes beyond simply withholding punishment or judgment. It involves actively seeking the well-being of others with a generous heart. It requires humility, empathy, and a desire for reconciliation.
“By practicing mercy in our daily lives, we become channels of God’s love and grace to those around us. We bring God’s kingdom of love to earth.” Don’s words flowed from my head into my heart as he continued.
“Mercy is an attribute of God’s character and a virtue we’re called to embody. In its essence, mercy is showing compassion, kindness, and forgiveness to those who are in need or have wronged us.
“It involves extending love and grace to others, even when they don’t deserve it. God’s mercy towards humanity is profound. Despite our shortcomings, God extends loving-kindness and forgiveness towards us. As followers of Christ, we’re called to emulate his example of mercy by showing compassion and forgiveness to others.”
Don also explained that the word “mercy” has an older, sometimes lost translation. We typically think of mercy in relation to justice and punishment. We show mercy when we acquit or forego punishing a wrongdoer from the consequences of their misdeeds, even though they deserved it.
But having mercy means much more when we look at the root of the word in Greek and Hebrew. Mercy in Greek was “eleos,” which is derived from the word for olive oil. In the old days, olive oil was used to treat wounds. It was soothing, comforting, and healing. This use of the word points to a merciful God who is a healing presence in our lives.
In Hebrew the word for mercy is “hesed,” which means steadfast love. A merciful God is a God of steadfast, unwavering love. We are called to embody God’s unwavering mercy for others as a holy oil, a healing balm.
A gentle peace streamed within my body. Yet my mind still grappled with letting go of my anger toward the one who had wronged me.
But how are we blessed when we become merciful?” I asked.
Don took a few deep breaths and replied.
“When Jesus spoke the words ‘blessed’ in the Sermon on the Mount, he was referring to a state of true happiness and well-being that transcends worldly circumstances.
“In the Beatitudes, Jesus described those qualities and attitudes that lead to inner freedom and joy.
“When we embody mercy, we allow God to transform our suffering into inner peace. We experience heaven on earth. We become Pure Love.
“True happiness is found in listening to God’s Voice of Love and following God’s guidance.
“Being blessed means finding fulfillment in our relationship with God and living according to his teachings. It involves experiencing his presence, receiving his grace and forgiveness, and aligning our lives with his way of love.
“This blessedness is not dependent on worldly success or material possessions but stems from an intimate connection with God that brings lasting joy and peace.”
As Don finished his sermon in the spiritual direction room, a cry that rose from the pit of my stomach shook my body as the anger I needed to release spewed its negative energy out from my mouth. I paused for a moment to reflect on Don’s words and then shared my thoughts:
“The world tells me to play my card. My head tells me to play it. But my heart tells me to follow Jesus’ path. I won’t play the card, Don. But I need God’s grace to transform my human anger into divine mercy, so I can embody mercy. The Beatitudes are tough to live out sometimes. But with God’s grace, I’m learning how to let the Creator transform my suffering into the Essence of Pure Love—the Essence of who we already are—as we learn how to live love in real-time, real-life.”
As I got up to end the spiritual direction session, I hugged Don and thanked him for helping me understand what God was teaching me.
“What have you learned?” he asked.
“I now know that when we lean into God’s grace, the Creator transforms our anger and life’s injustices into love and mercy. We’re changed on the inside.
“Jesus didn’t get it wrong. The choice is ours to decide if we want to follow in his footsteps.”
I never got that kiss with Teresa. But as I reflect on that long-ago night, I realize Sister Carmella shared two pieces of wisdom I’ll never forget: to leave room for Jesus and the healing power of a smile.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.