3 joyful kids playing in the snow

“The greatest sinner is the one who has the greatest right to my mercy.”

Jesus said these words to Saint Faustina in her famous diary. The greatest sinner is the one to whom Jesus’ Heart is most opened. The thief on the cross. Those who mocked Jesus. It was to these that He prayed: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). But do we extend this same kindness to everyBODY that we meet? I would propose that many Catholics (myself sometimes included) struggle to extend this kindness.

I’ve often heard Catholics say: ‘We are called to love our neighbor, even if we don’t like our neighbor.’ And while there’s truth to the idea that we might not initially enjoy loving someone, Catholics often use this as an excuse to (as I have heard said) ‘love their neighbor from afar.’ It turns out this really boils down to be not actually loving one’s neighbor at all.

 

Loving our neighbors can be difficult. But Jesus loves them. Whether our neighbors are shockingly ‘too liberal’ or uncomfortably ‘too conservative,’ Jesus loves them. God created their bodies, and He stamped into their being the mark of the Eternal Trinity. Jesus sees past the mess which is their hearts and He sees the goodness of who they are.

So, do we try to do the same? Do we try to see the goodness that Jesus sees underneath the mess? Or do we elevate ourselves above them because we don’t live that way?

I’ve heard it once said, “We are all beggars before God. Christianity is just one beggar telling another beggar where he found some food.” That ‘some food’ is the sacraments. It is mercy.

Sometimes we can distance ourselves from fellow ‘beggars’ because of how they look, what they do, or what they believe. But as Jesus said, “The healthy have no need for a physician, but the sick do.” (Mk 2:17) And we are all sick. We all need the food that gives eternal life. We all need mercy.

I pray that we may all recognize the need that we have for God’s mercy. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that we are beggars. But when we do, it helps us to see everything as a gift from God. And when we live in this humble gratitude, it becomes easier to humble ourselves, to love others, loving them as the Divine Physician would love them.

3 joyful kids playing in the snow

Gabriel Milano has his Master’s degree in Theology in Marriage and Family at the John Paul II Institute and is a content creator and speaker for TOBET. He also writes fantasy novels for children and young adults, under the pen name G. M. Dantes.

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