By: Sister Immaculata, OCD
Read Part 1 Here!
Picture the image of Divine Mercy with rays emanating from the Heart of Jesus. Just as light through a prism gives off a rainbow of colors, I like to imagine that the Mercy of Christ shining from His Heart breaks off into various interpersonal virtues: patience, gentleness, kindness, humility and compassion. It would be hard to separate these since they really seem to flow from one source which is mercy. These are the interpersonal virtues which are essentially important for us to cultivate.
Let’s go to the Gospel of John to look to the example of Mary in the Wedding Feast of Cana. This passage is so rich, but for our purpose here I would like to focus on only one human aspect and it’s this, that the wine ran out. In those days the entire village would be invited to a week-long celebration and wine was a very important part of it. To run out of wine would be a huge embarrassment and would actually bring shame upon the couple for years to come. Someone messed up. It seems like someone procrastinated, was irresponsible, exercised poor judgement, used poor planning, or was careless. Mary was attentive, overlooked the personal flaws, and went to her Son. By her kindness and discretion, her compassion and gentleness, she showed exquisite consideration. She doesn’t blame, she doesn’t condemn. Mary has a heart of mercy because she learned that from her Son. As one spiritual writer ​put it: ‘We were made to inhale love from God and to exhale this love to others.’
I believe we first need to practice these virtues in our thoughts. The first battle ground for holiness is in our minds. I think we all find ourselves being distracted by the human flaws of those around us. We might find ourselves preoccupied by negative conversations in our minds about the shortcomings of others. Yet, we must be careful. We don’t want to fall for the trick of doing battle against each other instead of battling against the evil of our times and our own fallen human nature, that is, our own imperfections.
It helps to begin by intentionally focusing on other’s strengths rather than on their flaws. Notice the next time you dwell on another’s shortcomings. The effect is that it probably makes you feel unhappy and frustrated. Then notice how you feel when you think about their good qualities. You’ll find that this likely helps your own disposition to be more positive. Focusing on good qualities is like the warm golden sunshine on plants. It supports their growth. On the other hand, the evil spirits want us to shine a harsh, scrutinizing light on others, a light of shame. But, take note, the light that comes from the Heart of Christ is one of mercy, patience and understanding.