Several years ago, The Christophers published a News Note entitled “Become a Model of Christlike Mercy.” Since this is the weekend of Divine Mercy Sunday, it seems appropriate to share some excerpts from that reflection.

Let’s start with a story about Daryl Silva, who is known as “The Boston Dad” on Facebook and Youtube, where he relates funny stories about life and faith with a thick New England accent. In one video, he recalled a road rage incident that he feels was defused by the Holy Spirt giving him strength and mercy. As Silva was pulling out of a parking lot, a pickup truck taking up two lanes zoomed towards him, with the driver honking his horn and screaming obscenities. Instead of responding the same way, Silva says he felt the Holy Spirit inspire him to lean out his window and say to the angry driver, “Would you like me to buy you a coffee? It seems like you’ve had a bad day.”

Though taken aback, the driver followed Silva into a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, still wondering if this offer was real. Silva bought him coffee and started praying with the man, who broke down in tears and started sharing all the troubles in his life. Silva said, “He started letting go of all that was going on in his life, crying, and I started getting teary-eyed. It was amazing. I told him to connect with me on Facebook.” Silva concluded his video by saying, “If somebody is acting cruel to you, mean to you, they need that heart of yours. They need God more than anyone. So don’t react to their anger. Answer with love.”

That is a great example of mercy. But what exactly is the origin of the word. As our Christopher News Note stated, “In the original Gospels, mercy (eleos in Greek) can also be translated as compassion or pity, but without the negative connotations we have in English for pity. It’s a feeling of positive emotion: kindness or goodwill towards the afflicted, combined with a desire to help them.

“Mercy means to show care for the individual, and it indicates a dimension of forgiveness when referenced in terms of judgment. To give and receive mercy is to recognize that errors may have been done and wrongs committed, that one may stand rightfully condemned, but clemency and compassion override the pull towards harsh judgment, strict retribution, or worse, revenge. It is a central message in the Christian worldview and one from which we all benefit, as our Lord took on the weight of our sins out of merciful compassion. Mercy also encourages forgiveness, which can heal both the victim and the offender. We are called to mirror God’s mercy in our lives.”

Like many virtues we are called to embody, mercy is not easy. After all, when someone hurts us, hurting them in return feels like the most natural reaction in the world. It might even seem like justice. Yet, Jesus calls us to something higher. In the Sermon on the Mount, and the sermon on the plain, Christ teaches, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy,” and he implores his audience, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” So, on this Divine Mercy Sunday, let’s try to pray for the strength to be more merciful towards others. As St. Vincent de Paul once said, “Mercy, according to God’s desires, has no limits and in fact, if it is like God’s mercy, it embraces everyone.”

For free copies of the Christopher News Note BECOME A MODEL OF CHRISTLIKE MERCY, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or email . Tony Rossi is Director of Communications for The Christophers.

Tony Rossi, The Christophers