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Blessed are the merciful

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Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. How wonderful is the logic of mercy: it blesses those who receive it, because it is mercy itself that renders one blessed. If we want to bless our neighbor, all we have to do is show mercy, and in turn we will be blessed for having offered it. Even more admirable and resplendent is the mercy we show in blessing our neighbor who is our enemy; when we are able to give thanks, through divine grace, for the offenses received from him, as did Saint Bernadette in her testament. If every man exercised this virtue, wouldn’t there soon be on earth a harmony of reciprocal exchanges of love, peace and bliss?

Great sensitivity is needed to cultivate mercy and make it a visible fruit to donate to others. It requires all the five senses that God has given not only to experience the pleasures we seek or to physically experience pain. The senses are also a formidable tool to relate to others and to test our faith and desire to love, as the poet and priest David Maria Turoldo wrote in his poem: "The Senses are the Temple of an Unshakable Faith". The senses are the means for performing acts of mercy and for experiencing mercy, because only through them is it possible to know man’s misery. Only through this sensorial experience can the heart be painfully pierced by mercy’s compassion. The eyes and ears perceive and become acquainted with the other person's life while the hands and voice operate. Let us make good use of eyesight, which is the most powerful of the senses! When Jesus wanted to love someone intensely He would fix His gaze on him as in the case of the rich man whom He invited to follow Him and the crowd that Jesus welcomed and felt compassion for, feeding them with His teachings as well as bread and fish. How do we use our eyes? Do we use them to look at the misery of the stranger, the poor, the ashamed beggar at the corner of the street? Do we use them to look at the misty eyes and tired and unmade features of those who cannot bear the weight of life and so tread the path of despair? To look at the loneliness and yearning for love of the outcast in order to experience the same compassion that made Christ’s heart throb? Are we capable of looking at our own reflection in the mirror which faithfully reproduces our misery, our failures and nothingness, becoming fully aware of them? Finally, let us lift our gaze toward the night sky to bring it into the depths and infinity of the unexplored and unexplorable worlds that surround us. Compared to these is the Earth just a grain of celestial dust and man’s life a wilted petal? Do we know how to recognize the infinite misery of our existence? Perhaps we would be less eager to follow the whims of the human will and discover that only mutual love and mercy have the power to give full meaning to the immense suffering of being human, precisely because it gives every man the power of being blessed by first blessing another through the working of love. And because it is not an ephemeral love, a passing and inconstant shadow, man has the gift of choosing to trust in Jesus to find in Him, Who is the same eternal and meaningful love that is capable of restoring to man all the dignity of a living being.

It is necessary to recognize misery, the condition of being lowely, lost, the last, of belonging to oneself and to one’s neighbor. To show mercy for another one must have knowledge of the other’s misery. The feeling of compassion that we spontaneously feel can be very muddy, unless we have the moral proof of our own misery. So we risk proffering compassion from an immaculate pulpit of superiority using mercy as the means to calm our troubled consciences. We risk telling ourselves "I did my duty", and dare sense we are good, like saints, and at peace with the injustices of the world. Mercy is recognizing one's miserable condition in the other. Jesus is not only merciful towards man but also inspires mercy; by contemplating Him we see a Man who suffers exactly as we do. In Him we see the reflection of our human condition as sinners, our most aberrant, purulent and wretched misery: ecce homo! Jesus condemned and crucified is the criminal, the abhorred, the outcast, the lonely. How many men who are cast out, suffering, condemned, rejected, mistreated, derided and who have failed can find themselves in those wounds and recognize themselves? And how can this knowledge not instill in the human heart an authentic sense of compassion and love for a God who not deserving by nature to undergo that condition, or of being responsible for every sin of every man of every age, even so, takes them upon Himself to the death of the cross? Yet, it is Christ’s forgiveness from the cross that truly makes the heart tremble and bends it to love, and is the madness that the human heart and intelligence can neither tolerate nor understand exceeding its moral limit and transcending its own imagination. Though not believing in the deity of Christ, the anarchist songwriter-poet Fabrizio De André, in the face of that extreme and sublime forgiveness cannot help but sing these astonishing words: “But inhuman still is the love of one who gasps without resentment, forgiving with his last words those who kill him in the arms of a cross”.

Oh holy mercy of Jesus, how glorious you are, illuminating humanity with universal splendor and making every man’s heart leap at the sight of the miracles of your love. I myself, though unlike the poet, acknowledging the divinity of Christ, am amazed and intimately moved to the point of wanting to remain silent in front of so much compassion, knowing even more that from that Cross Christ is forgiving me, who am His denier, traitor, torturer and murderer! What is left to do in the face of such an excess of love that chooses to take upon Himself my fate and Sin, thirsting as He is for my wandering soul?

Forgiveness - the greatest work of mercy. My human reason knows that mistakes are rarely forgiven, especially wounds and enemy’s offenses. Few are the pardons that can be granted to one same man, according to my way of thinking - perhaps seven, as those conceived by Peter when he asked Jesus how many times he should forgive. By dint of wandering, deviating and of inconsistencies, I believe that my very existence has lost some degree of meaning and lacks credibility, and that my word is emptied of truth. I enter a state of terrible confusion because I am aware of having committed too many wrongs and sins compared to the forgiveness I have already received; I have gone far beyond the limits of human and divine patience by perservering in disobedience. An ominous feeling of condemnation strikes the soul agonizing in remorse. Such a soul so stricken and desolate at the thought of God can’t help but see the Divine Judge Who no longer trusts his word and inconstant actions. Here, then, is that Man, the agonizing God on the cross Who, contemplated in a moment of silence, opposes the dark thoughts that separate man from His love, the love that forgives. Although still difficult to believe, my mind is open to the possibility of an inexhaustible and infinite pardon for those who ask it with a contrite heart. And so I approach to ask, to beg and to plead for this forgiveness, which like the breath infused by God in the first Man, fully restores life to a soul that felt within itself a destiny of condemnation and death. What a scandal, what a marvel, what a miracle of life it is to give and receive unlimited forgiveness!

Oh Luisa, you who have loved Jesus so much and have gone through all the tests of His love; you who have loved mankind so much to the point of offering yourself as victim before God's Justice, fully imitating Jesus Christ. You willed to suffer the pains of hell to save a lost soul and offered every pain to satisfy Christ’s insatiable thirst for souls. You who were docile, understanding and endured every act of human cowardice; to you who considered yourself as the first miserable creature, I pray: intercede before the Divine Will, since you live in It, and always implore forgiveness for my soul and for all the souls in need of mercy!


Alessandro De Benedittis
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