As we again ponder, and ‘pray with’, the events of the first Holy Week and Easter, we once more become aware of the enormity of God’s mercy to humankind. In the darkness of Calvary on Good Friday and in the celebration of Our Lord’s resurrection on Easter Day, we see both sides of Divine mercy. God is with us in the darkness of all human suffering and bewilderment, but God also holds out the hope of a new and wonderful dimension to human existence, both in this life and beyond this life. Herein is the miracle of that great mercy held out for us.
This year is a particular ‘year of mercy’ in the Roman Catholic tradition, but for all Christian disciples – of whatever tradition – the heartbeat of the Beatitudes echoes through all true spiritual endeavour with its central message, ‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.’ (Matthew 5.7)
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to respond to the mercy of God, shown to us most vividly in the happenings of Holy Week and Easter. We do so with real humility but also with a new determination to reflect that mercy of God, however imperfectly, in the way we live our own lives. There are those around us who are fearful and lonely and who feel little hope for themselves or for their families. There are those further afield who are have lost everything in this world and who are the recipients only of suspicion and even hatred. We cannot simply stand aloof, if we claim the name of Christ.
The opposite of merciful is not unmerciful but merciless, a chilling and frightening word. None of us wishes to be regarded as merciless, and yet indifference to mercy is indeed merciless behaviour. Our prayer for ourselves and for all Christian disciples is that we may all, however inadequately, show something of the immeasurable mercy of God - shown to us most vividly in the events of Holy Week and Easter - in our daily living.
May the God of all mercy bless you and all His people,
+Richard, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
+Eamon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh