Sunday, 11/1/15 – Blessed Are the Merciful

(Rv 7:2-4, 9-14; PS 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 11:28)

Jesus sermon on the mount“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Nestled right in the middle of today’s Gospel reading is perhaps one of the most important of all the beatitudes, and aside from Jesus’ “New Commandment” to love God and to love one another; it is possibly one of the most profound statements in all of the New Testament.

Mercy. If everyone showed a greater mercy towards one another, this world would be a much better place. This Church would be a better Church. But we don’t. Often, rather than showing mercy, we show judgement and condemnation. Yet, we ourselves expect mercy in return. We want to condemn the sinner on our way to sainthood. We want to be one of those in the reading from Revelations today, clothed in white praising God forever in Heaven, yet we’re skipping the instruction manual laid out before us in the second reading from the First Letter of John today, and then of course in Jesus’ sermon in the Gospel.

We do not have an automatic ticket to sainthood. God wants us all in Heaven and has planned our lives so we can make it to Heaven and live eternally with Him as a saint in Heaven, but this is not a ticket that never expires. If we don’t get on the right track, and the right train, and we keep making the same mistakes while not trying to live by those Beatitudes from today’s Gospel, at some point in our lives, that ticket will eventually expire, and we will miss that train. It’s about mercy.

We must seek God’s mercy, asking forgiveness for our sins and asking for the grace to be merciful towards others. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not only where we turn to God for His mercy in forgiving our sins, but we also go to Confession because we want His protection. We want God’s grace to protect us from the temptations that will come our way, the grace to turn away from them and not give in. We turn to Confession for the grace to enhance our spiritual relationship with Christ and increase our prayer life with Him and keep our life in the right perspective. We turn to Confession for God’s grace to help us be more merciful to others who cross our path in life, and cross us. And it’s through this grace of mercy and being merciful to others, that we will receive God’s eternal mercy, and be one of those saints in Heaven that we celebrate on this day, this All Saints Day.

But we often forget the merciful part of the equation. I look no further than the latest Synod on the Family and its fallout. The biggest, most publicized topic of discussion was – How do we handle those who are divorced and remarried, and how do we handle those with same-sex attraction. Or in the words of many in our Church today – How do we handle those people? As if they are some sort of outcast.

Church doctrine did not change in the Synod, and it’s not going to change. I just can’t see that ever happening. And it shouldn’t change. The Catholic doctrine is perfect, because it is the truth revealed from God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

But people are not perfect. Nor are priests, or Bishops, or the Pope. We, as people, have a way of ruining things. And so in times like these, when I hear fellow Catholics referring to how the Church should be treating those people, it saddens me. Because this talk is not merciful. It automatically creates a divide. Sure, maybe many of us are not divorced and remarried, or have same-sex attraction, but we suffer from countless other spiritual ailments that separate us from the love of God. Lust and pornography. Alcohol and drug addiction. Anger and resentment. Premarital sex. Contraception and abortion. Lying, cheating and stealing. Greed. Coveting of material possessions. Envy. Malice. Judgement and condemnation. The list goes on and on. What are we to do with all of these people? These people are us.

And so when we refer to those people, two questions come to mind – who gives anyone the right to judge because what makes any one of us any better? And, when we do see a problem, what are we doing about it? Are we just complaining, or are we trying to help?

Are we recognizing the problem, but more importantly are we showing mercy and love towards them? Rather than gossiping about who is divorced or is guilty of a particular sin, are we striving to comfort them and help them through anything they are dealing with? Are we being Christ-like? Because correct me if I am wrong, but we all expect mercy in return, right?

Those people, these people, them. Us. We are all in this together, therefore we need to help each other, and not condemn and treat people as outcasts. We can’t complain about how great the world used to be and how horrible it is now, and yet do nothing about it. We all can do something, and every single one of us can be merciful.

Listen… This is a complex world. It is gray, while our Faith is black and white. But that’s the great thing. Our Faith is black and white. We always have it there as a constant in an ever changing world, a pillar that keeps us on track, that helps us strive to be better, to better others, and at times, helps us to discern how to get back on track.

Our Church is our guide to sainthood. But if you’re reading this, you’re not there yet. None of us are, and so we shouldn’t portray that we are saints. And so while there are truths in the Church, such as who is worthy to receive Communion or the true sacredness of Marriage, there is also the truth of God’s mercy. He will show us mercy if we show mercy to others.

We all have a lot to do spiritually – both internally in our souls and externally with other people. But our faith gives us a beacon of light to shoot for. Jesus gives us the Sacraments and the Beatitudes to help us see how we can get better, and be more loving and merciful. And we mustn’t overlook the Sacrament of Confession, because receiving Gods mercy and forgiveness for our sins is only part of the equation. We must utilize the gift of this Sacrament to help us bring order to our lives and grow spiritually. Because Confession is not only a time when we are fixing ourselves, but it is also preventative maintenance.

And through His mercy, he gives us the grace we need to be merciful to others. Sometimes we make bad decisions. Sometimes we are a product of bad fortune. Sometimes our temptations get the best of us. There are rules to our faith that give us something to shoot for and tell us how we need to live. But no one should be marginalized and excluded.

We as a Church and as a Faith, must be able to find a way to be more welcoming and be more merciful while upholding Christ’s truth and the truth of the Church. We have got to find a way to stop dwelling on the way things used to be, and look to how we can move forward and increase the love of the Church, not in some distant land, but right here in our homes, and our families, in our family of friends, our parish family, our neighbors and society. Starting with our young, but ending with all of us. We have got to find it in our hearts how to show mercy to all, and how to be welcoming, and we have got to discern in our very soul how we can help counsel others who may be struggling with complex problems in this complex world.

Jesus knows this is how the world is. He knows life is complex. He’s experienced it. But He’s given us a very simple way to navigate through it. His grace and His mercy. We as Catholics may not believe in everything the Church stands for because it conflicts with our own decisions and desires, and we may not agree with the actions of others that conflict with the truth and teachings of the Church. But a wise priest, who I know is now one of those saints in Heaven, once said, “we don’t have to have it all figured out at once. We just have to trust in God’s grace throughout, and trust in the process and God will help us figure it out.”

If we do, that scene in Revelations will be revealed to us, as will God’s ultimate plan for us, and he will truly show us mercy. But we must be merciful in return.

About the Author

My name is Joe LaCombe, and I am a writer in Indianapolis, Indiana in the USA. My amazing wife Kristy and I have been married for 15 years and we have an awesome little boy, Joseph, who is in 1st Grade! We are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, Indiana where we volunteer with Adult Faith Formation, most recently with the marriage enrichment ministries. To see adults, and married couples embrace the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a beautiful thing, and being able to tap into my experiences and bring the message of God to people through the written word is a passion of mine. I am an avid runner! I love to run and be out in the nature that God created, so you will find me running not only on sunny days, but rainy days, and even snow! I love to train for and compete in distance races, and find a deep spirituality in running, and I see distinct parallels between running and spirituality and life. I am excited and extremely blessed to be able to contribute to this website and look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences!

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  1. Thank you for saying the unpopular words that need to be said, heard with our hearts, settled in our souls, and applied in our daily lives. Since this is the Year of Mercy, I pray, along with many Catholics throughout the world and with our beloved Pope Francis, that we all will “be merciful like the heavenly Father” is merciful, loving, and compassionate to each of us.

  2. “We have to trust in God’s grace throughout, and trust in the process and God will help us figure it out.” Excellent reflection on All Saints Day. Confession, mercy, love and God will help us figure it out . Wonderful. God Bless.

  3. I am one of ‘those’ people. I thank you for recognizing that those people who divorce & remarry are NOT the only sinners. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am a cradle Catholic. I’ve remained a Catholic. I participate as much as allowable in the Catholic church. This past week a local high up clergy spoke of those people as well. I left that lecture doubting my faith. Have I been a fool all these years thinking God loves me, a sinner? Should I remain in the Catholic church? I am an outcast. The church accepts my treasures & talents, but categorizes me as those people. In my simple mind, we are all children of God. Based on my decisions in life, right, wrong or indifferent, I am not to be accepted? My thought process is aligned with what you outline above, that others sin too. I heard an answer during the homily in Mass last night to what I’ve been struggling with. All the saints, including family members & friends who have gone before us kept moving forward through their trials & struggles, no matter what the problem. I, too, must continue on in my struggle with the hope that I will be able to resolve my issue and receive the sacraments & be united with all the saints including family members & friends. Thank you. Your writing confirms that I should not give up. May you continue to feel Christ’s peace in your life.

  4. Karen, this very thing is why I wrote this piece today. God bless you, and I pray that you someday don’t feel the exclusion you do today. Know that our faith is here for you, as it is for all of us, and know that Jesus will be with you, yearning for you every step, as you yearn for Him.

  5. To the best of my knowledge all are welcome at our parish, and to the best of my knowledge invited to fully participate in everything. I can’t imagine it any other way. I pray for those who have the opposite experiences.
    I must admit when recently invited to a gay ‘wedding ‘ I had very mixed emotions and didn’t know what to do. Then I remembered we are all the same in the eyes of God, so I went and am glad I did. Other family members, with even a closer relationship, didn’t go and I feel sorry for them.

  6. Thank you for encouraging me.Indeed we need to trust in God’s grace throughout this has surely renewed my life
    i would admire to raise our two children with my husband but he was busy with his desires, but as i write he is back changed and anything he wants to do is for the sake of the family.
    in 10years i trusted in process and will of God to help me figure it out

  7. I am so grateful to read the reflection above. The relflection has really shown us how to be the face of Jesus to the others without having to classify people based on their respective issues.
    Knowing that we are all equal before God is a virtue and It will make us be sincere in treating others as we know that we’re dealing with fellow beloved God’s creation.

    I am in Indonesia and been following the reflection on this site almost a month now and I’d like to thank you for writing a good reflection that I believe will nurture my sipiritual life

    God bless this website, people who work for it and every refection that is published here.

  8. Mr. LaCombe,
    I truly appreciated your spiritual reflection and comments on the written scripture readings. As I sit here contemplating all that you stated regarding our personal behavior, how the world is, our personal perceptions and opinions about others and change, I am certainly guilty of being judgmental. I have really lacked in area of mercy especially of “those people”. All my adult life, I’ve had to make important decisions that affect others and some have had life changing consequences. You see, I am a police officer and often times struggle trying to find a medium between the letter of the law and spirit of the law (mercy). I can’t tell you how many times I wish God would just make these decisions for me and know that everything I did was correct and right, but the law enforcement doesn’t work that way. There are so many variables and circumstances that have to be evaluated in a short period of time before taking some type of action. Recently, I retired first career of 36 years as a police captain and now, after a brief retirement, I am now seeking to find employment again in a related field. I have many mixed feelings in my present life, and reading your reflection above really helped me. I truly thank you and ask the your and your wife’s prayers for me and my future. Just like your love running, I love to workout with weights, cross training and apply cardio exercises. May the Spirit of God and it’s seven gifts come upon you and remain with you throughout time. Thank you! Abel Arriazola

  9. Abel, thank you so much for your amazing comment! It means so much knowing that God spoke to you in the way He did through my reflection, and know that you are in our prayers. Being merciful and non-judgmental is definitely easier said than done, and I know that this is something we all struggle with from time to time. It must be so tough to be in law enforcement and uphold the law, yet show mercy and not judge at the same time, and so all we can do is trust in God’s grace to get us through and hope and pray we are doing the right thing. Thank You for what you do. May God bless you and your family, and know that we will pray for you, as I’m sure others who read this from around the world will do as well.

    God Bless,


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