“It is the blind hope I have in His mercy… There is my only treasure.” -St. Therese of Lisieux
Do you truly hope in God's mercy?
I have to ask myself this often. I don't know about you, but I find that so much of my life is spent trying to achieve. Trying to achieve success, holiness, perfection, virtue, the good opinions of others. I forget almost every day that my Father's love for me has absolutely nothing to do with my performance.
His love is merciful.
What is mercy anyway, and why have so many modern saints- Faustina, Therese, John Paul II- talked about it?
Mercy is love that we do not deserve and cannot earn. It is God's compassion, His forgiveness, the pity He has from the depth of His heart for His children.
It is not based on our own merit, or even our own virtue. Mercy is not based on who we are. It is based on who God is.
This can be scandalous for a utilitarian generation such as ourselves. In America especially our entire worth is found in the wealth we earn, the grades we earn, the popularity we earn... How can we not earn the love of God?
I think this is precisely why today's saints have come with this message of mercy. Not only to remind us of how desperately we need God's love and forgiveness, but also to help crush the idols of perfectionism that have been erected in our culture.
Perfectionism, I believe, is one of the greatest harms of our time. We reject ourselves, reject others, even reject life itself because we believe it is not as it "should" be. But this is not what Christ did. And it still is not what He does.
Amanda Cook sings in one of my favorite songs, Mercy:
"You delight in showing mercy; and mercy triumphs over judgment."
Do you believe this? That your Father in Heaven delights in showing you mercy? Simply because of who He is?
"The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy" (Psalm 145:8).
It's not that we shouldn't strive to be the very best versions of ourselves. Each day I try so hard to grow in holiness, love, knowledge, and in many other ways. But I found in my own life that the deepest growth comes from knowing- not just in my head but in my heart- how good God truly is. That He is so merciful and full of love. That there is nothing too big for Him to heal or forgive. No one too sinful for Him to bless.
When we discover the treasure of God's mercy and hope blindly in it, and we know that His love isn't based upon our performance, we're free. Like St. Therese... We can't help but want to love like He loves!
St. Julian of Norwich said: "Some of us believe that God is almighty and can do everything; and that He is all-wise and may do everything; but that He is all-love and will do everything- there we draw back. As I see it, this ignorance is the greatest of all hindrances to God's lovers."
Do you believe that God is all-love? That He will even do everything? Just for you?