Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Many, many years ago — it feels like another lifetime now — I went to the Divine Retreat Center in Kerala to spend some time with God. I had a very special encounter with him there that contributed to bringing me where I am today. During the sessions, they would often call out some of the participants names and make a prophesy about them. On the last day of the retreat, they mentioned my name and said that “goodness and mercy would follow me all the days of my life”.
I recognized it as something from Psalm 23 (see Psalm 23:6), but don’t remember being overly impressed. I had expected something grander, but as the years passed, I realized what a wonderful thing it is to have God’s goodness and mercy all the time. I know that when people look at me, preaching a retreat, or sharing these reflections, they imagine I have my act all together. But, unfortunately, I don’t. Not as much as I would like, anyway.
Every day is a struggle against the lures of this world, and although I do manage to stay on the straight and narrow for the most part, there are occasions, even if seldom, that I fall. It is a terrible thing, especially for someone who truly tries to please God, but it is here that I truly see his goodness and mercy in evidence. Not only does he pick me up himself, he dusts me off, and sets me on my way again. And that is such a wonderful thing.
And because of this, the prophesy that was made works in another way. Having experienced God’s goodness and mercy, I feel naturally moved to extend goodness and mercy towards others. How can I not? Especially because if I don’t, I risk God asking me one day: “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow (brother) just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:33). It is a question you will find asked in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant and I suggest you read it. You will find it in Matthew 18.
Now, prophecies notwithstanding, I hope you realize that goodness and mercy follows you, too. I am sure that those of you watching this would like to lead good lives. But I also know that you fail. Additionally, I know there is a tendency to beat ourselves up. Instead of doing this, how about we go to God and give him a chance to show his love and mercy? And, then, having been restored, how about we extend our own mercy towards others.
Only fair that we do, no?