Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar
St. Luke has written in reminding us of the Lord Jesus’ sermon about having a practical love for our enemies: Be merciful as your Father is merciful (Lk 6:36). Mercy that meets the spiritual and temporal needs of others is our Christian duty, and must be the norm of the disciples of Christ. and yet of itself it principally belongs to the natural disposition of the human heart.
“God has formed the human heart,” St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar writes, “in a such way, that it increases in nobility, peace, consolation and power in proportion to its compassion and mercy shown to others. Also sometimes one of our noble deeds will serve as the means for our conversion or sanctification.” Moreover, the good of the believer requires fulfilling deeds of mercy, for their fruits also are inestimable. Nothing draws as many souls to God as does mercy joined to mortification and suffering. The testimony that is most eloquent is that of our deeds and sacrifices. In such manner, mercy becomes a sign of zeal for God’s glory and the building up of the Church.
Mercy is shown above all by our practical love of neighbor. First of all, this means the preservation and pursuit of justice. “Do no harm to your neighbor,” writes St. Joseph Sebastian, “rather do him as much good as you are able.” Such is demanded of us by our intellect and heart, likewise by justice and society, since humanity is one great family, one great body in which individual members should care for one another and bring real help to all.
Mercy is needed especially for those who are spiritually suffering. To be ignorant of doctrine, to suffer anxiety and sadness, to have a lack of faith and grace, to experience sin and the punishment for sin, are great spiritual sufferings. They are more painful than bodily sufferings therefore do they need greater mercy. One who loves God cannot look indifferently at how those are perishing for whom Christ shed His Blood. The rescue of sinners means to cooperate with God for the salvation of people. The hidden apostolate is a sacrificial offering most pleasing to God, since God chose to save people, and this, also through others. How then are we to help those who are suffering like this? To not spare our pains and sacrifices in our work for their conversion; to pray for the wandering; to offer up our own crosses; to be a good example, a thing most effective; and also to admonish in an appropriate way. These are the ways to be of help.
Mercy also demands our obedience and gratitude to God. We receive everything from God, and, through us, God desires to show forth His Heart toward the many who are needy. Mercy is an imitation of the example of Christ who became mercy to the beggars and bread to the hungry. To the thirsty He comes as the source of grace, to the sick He comes not only as the physician but as the medicine as well. He is consoler to the suffering and shepherd to those who stray. Whoever fulfills mercy imitates Christ and becomes like a “merciful God to his neighbor” and an instrument of divine Providence.