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August 1988

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph. 4:32)

St Paul was writing to the community at Ephesus. He describes the Christian life as a life of unity and of charity. After listing the things which Christian love leads us to avoid:  lies, theft, dishonesty etc., he goes on to tell us what Christian love moves us to do. And one of the first attitudes which charity prompts us to have is kindness, understanding, mercy, forgiveness towards all.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

We must be merciful, St Paul explains, because we are God's children and as such we are called to clothe ourselves with God's feelings, pouring out on our neighbours the mercy which our Father in heaven has poured out on us through his son Jesus Christ.

In Jesus we see a love which is infinitely welcoming. Jesus does not condemn, he never excludes anyone, he supports and encourages everyone, he does not quench the flickering name. His love goes in search of the lost sheep. His love rebuilds and restores peace. His love pardons without any limit, forgetting everything, celebrating for the sinner who returns to the Father's house and renewing the sinner completely.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

If we are merciful then we can truly build peace and unity. Given that we are all weak, limited and exposed to error, it is clear that peace and unity among us will depend in the first place on our understanding of each other and our forgiveness of each other.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

While the Word of Life this month helps us to discover one of the most beautiful expressions of Christian love, the most human expression, which makes us become like God, and the same time we will find it's not easy to put this into practice.

We must recognise that mercy is not our strong point; indeed it is the area in which we fail most often. Wounded by sin our nature is more inclined to judge than to welcome our neighbour; more inclined to emphasise their defects and weaknesses rather than to cover and hide them; more inclined to remember wrongs and insults received rather than to forgive and forget them.

But if Jesus asks us to be merciful, it means that he assures us of his grace so that we will succeed.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

How are we to live this Word of Life? Just as the word tells us we should look at Jesus, think of him and seek to show the kindness and mercy that Jesus was the first to show to us. He is always merciful to us, we need never doubt this, no matter how many times we make mistakes during the day.

Chiara Lubich

 

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