I am going to quote from Father John Hardon again; he is just so theological practical. (I quoted from him in yesterday’s post on Bible Quotes on Gentleness.) I’m going to use pieces of his definition of “mercy” as we continue our 31 Days of Bible Quotes. Today we’re studying, although briefly, mercy in the Bible. Fr. Hardon is quotes as saying, “Mercy is meeting people’s needs; it is also meeting people’s subjective wants.” He also states, “Mercy is love shown not only to those in need or love shown not only to those who are in want, but mercy is love shown to those who are not lovable.”
Bible Quotes: Mercy in the Bible
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First, here’s the good news…God doesn’t run out of mercy. The scriptures even say they are new every morning, so we don’t even get the leftovers. But, there is a catch, if you want to call it that. If we want to be on the receiving end of mercy…we have to be first, on the giving end of mercy. And do not be confused, this does not even enter into a “faith verse works” discussion, no, this is mercy that man shows to others, due to the mercy first bestowed on him by God.
So according to Fr. Hardon’s definition, we have to meet other’s needs and subjective wants to have our needs or wants met. And by the way, to illustrate a subjective want, he uses the wedding at Cana as the example. The wedding party wasn’t out of water; the guests weren’t going to shrivel up and die for lack of water. They were out of wine. And our Lady asked Her Son Jesus Christ to meet their want, not necessarily their need. Also according to Fr. Hardon’s definition, we have to love the unlovable. This of course is because, and this might surprise you…we are sometimes unlovable.
When our Lord preached the Beatitudes, He said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” So, mercy is something we give? No, I think mercy is who we are or at least should strive to be. I say this because our Lord did not say, “Blessed are those who act merciful.” No, He said, “Blessed are the merciful.” So it is part of our character…or should be.
So how do we cultivate the virtue of mercy? I think we first recognize God’s mercy. And how do we do that? Gratitude. Fr. Hardon stated mercy is meeting someone’s needs and wants; if I am ungrateful…looking to get my due, I will not notice the needs and wants of others will I?
Saint Thomas Aquinas states, “Mercy is heartfelt sympathy for another’s distress*” So, a merciful person is an unselfish person. A merciful person is an observant person. A merciful person is a giving person. A merciful person is a sympathetic person.
Finally, a quote from then-Cardinal Ratzinger, “The more deeply stirred we are by the Lord’s mercy, the greater the solidarity we feel with his suffering—and we become willing to complete in our own flesh ‘what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ’ (Col 1: 24)*. So, a merciful person is willing to suffer for love of another because of Christ’s love for us all.
I compiled a list of Bible quotes on mercy in a free printable Word document for you. Click the link to download, print and tuck it into your Bible.
Bible Quotes Resources
My large print Bible
(This is my go-to Bible. It’s large print and just feels nice in my hands.)
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament
(I use this Bible when I’m looking for some more information about the text.)
The Catholic Bible Concordance for the Revised Standard Version
(You want to know where a word is in the Bible? This is the book for you!)
The Great Commentary of Cornelius A’ Lapide
(I use this commentary for more information as well.)
A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture
(I like this commentary because it also has reflections and applications.)
*Cited from an article by Veronica Arntz