September 10, 2021

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Let’s God mercy guide us in building relationships with others

Richard EtienneDid you ever wrestle with family or friends when you were young? Do you remember what you had to say when you were pinned to the floor before you could get up?

The word or phrase many of us shouted was “Uncle!” or “I give [up]!”

Fast forward to today: What word or phrase does the Church use to imply that we have reached the realization of being metaphorically pinned and ready to surrender to our Creator’s will? We cry, “Lord have mercy!”

Scripture refers to God’s mercy repeatedly. In the Book of Psalms, we read, “May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, mark our sins, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered” (Ps 130:2-4).

In Psalms, we also hear, “… gracious and merciful is the Lord” (Ps 111:4). In another psalm, we read, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on the faithful”

(Ps 103:13). Lastly, in the Book of Exodus, God says to Moses, “I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will” (Ex 33:19). What wonderful images for us!

Many of us who spend too much time beating ourselves up need to be reminded that our loving Father is full of mercy.

My wife and I were recently rear-ended in our car when I was attempting to make a right turn into a business. We were not injured, but the accident caused serious damage to our car.

The other driver accepted responsibility. She had recently moved to the area and admitted that she had momentarily looked down at her phone’s GPS to confirm her route. She thanked us for being so nice and understanding when interacting after the accident. I shared that I have appreciated mercy in the past when I was the one at fault.

How are you doing in interpersonal actions? Do you always show this level of mercy to those who have injured or hurt you?

There is a very clear directive in the Lord’s Prayer for anyone looking for guidance on the issue of forgiveness:

“… and forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Could it be that our own inability to be forgiving and merciful prevents us from truly believing that God could be generous in compassion? Are there specific relationships in your life that need attention in this area?

Schedule a time to sit quietly and let God show you those people who might benefit from your mercy. Then ask God for the wisdom and strength to know the proper place and time for specific acts of mercy. And let your mantra be, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” as you move forward in building on those relationships.

(Richard Etienne has a degree in theology from Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad and resides in Newburgh, Ind.)

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