Growing up in a strong Catholic family, the necessity of being merciful towards others was greatly stressed. I was taught to be respectful to my elders and kind to my peers. I was encouraged to forgive mean kids at school and share my things with my siblings. I was taught the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and given many opportunities to practice them. I learned how to show mercy towards others… But I never really learned how to receive mercy myself.
Having attended confession with regularity from my earliest days, I knew intellectually that my sins were forgiven. But often, I did not “feel” forgiven – for lying to my parents, stealing candy bars form the neighborhood store, looking at playboy magazines, etc. While attending “fraternity” (I mean “college”) my sins escalated. I often engaged in alcohol, lust and others dissolute behavior. I was so sorry. I went (weeping) to confession. Yet I bore an underlying feeling that I was unworthy of forgiveness.
It was not until my late 30s that I began to truly embrace God’s mercy. Though replete throughout Scripture, I finally came to see it beautifully illuminated through our Lord’s messages to St. Faustina.
“When a soul sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of misery into which it has immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust let it throw itself into the arms of my mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother. These souls have right of priority to my compassionate Heart, they have first access to my mercy.” (St. Faustina’s Diary, 1541)
I am a sinner in need of a savior. It is because I am a sinner that Jesus became man, suffered died and rose from the dead. Jesus emptied Himself of His glory for me! He suffered for me! He died for me! He rose for me!
Jesus does not love me less because I am a sinner. It is my sins that acutely attract His attention. I have the “right of priority to His compassionate Heart” because I am a sinner. It is my many sins that allow Him to show forth his infinite mercy. The greater my sins for which I am truly sorry, the greater He is glorified in showing the depth of His love and mercy for me!
I am a beautiful child of God. I cannot earn my way into heaven. I am loved exactly as I am, despite my many sins. I am worthy of God’s love and mercy, not of my own merit but by through the passionate sacrificial love of my Lord Jesus!
Jesus I accept your Mercy! Jesus I trust in you!