I just read a Lenten reflection that had made me uneasy.
Not because it was poorly written or in bad taste, but because I saw myself in the sin that the author was addressing.
It is one of my worst traits, and I am not proud to admit it, but I often become impatient with certain people. Not with users on the internet, or with strangers on the street. (Ironically, I am an angel of mercy toward strangers). No, I am impatient with the people that love me, and who I love in return – my family.
In my impatience, I am quick to judge, to argue, be snarky, dwell on perceived imperfections, and point out mistakes. I don’t really reassure anyone of my forgiveness, nor do I seek to be forgiven.
In short: I am not at all merciful. And it is wrong.
My thoughts on this topic are mediocre in comparison, so I will end this with words from Greg Carpinello, executive director of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (and the Lenten author who has me evaluating my behavior).
“The idea of God’s mercy always yanks me out of my own small ways of thinking, which have been shaped by a culture that tells me to judge, measure, and keep score in my relationships with loved ones, co-workers, and neighbors. God’s mercy doesn’t compute in our transactional world; it defies the logic of our dualistic, ingrained ways of reward and punishment. We are a people addicted to being right and righteous, so mercy feels like losing. Yet Jesus calls us toward mercy throughout the Gospels, models it for us, and shows us how it is the path toward reconciliation and justice. In other words, it is a key ingredient in the radical hope that we pray for this Lent. Though it can feel like mercy is in short supply in today’s world, we do possess the ability to cultivate it. It is a choice we face daily. The more we choose this kind of tenderness and compassion, the more readily available it becomes in those future moments when we are tempted to harden our hearts amidst interpersonal challenge.”