God’s mercy is the most profound expression of his love. Today, Dr. Sri unpacks the beauty behind the “Lord have mercy” prayer we say during mass, and provides us with Biblical context to better understand the meaning and power of God’s mercy.
Snippet from the Show
“God’s mercy is the most profound expression of his love.”
God wants us to experience his mercy and love. Every time we go to mass, we have the have the opportunity to encounter the loving and liberating mercy of God when we say the “Lord have mercy” prayer. But what exactly happens in the Father’s heart when we ask for mercy? Why is God drawn to a contrite heart? Let’s look at the Bible for more context.
The Hebrew word for mercy (hhesed) means unconditional love. It is used in the Bible to refer to the covenant steadfast love of God. God’s mercy is the most profound expression of his love because it shows us that he remains faithful even when we are unfaithful. As a merciful Father, God sees our hearts, not just our sins. When we ask for forgiveness and apologize to God for our sins, God rejoices in our desire to set things right and restore our relationship with him. When we own our mistakes and come to God in humility asking for his mercy, God delights in the goodness of our contrite hearts. We see this very clearly in the parable of the prodigal son in Matthew 18:15-35.
“The Father sees so clearly the good which has been achieved thanks to the mysterious radiation of truth and love that is going on in the son’s heart.”- St. John Paul II
“It seems as if the sins we commit in time are not remembered in eternity”- St. Bernard of Clairvaux
We can also ask for God’s mercy when we are suffering and struggling. God desires to pour out his mercy not just upon our sinfulness but also upon our sufferings, hardships, fears, anxieties, addictions, wounds, and worries. We can cry out for mercy in times when we feel alone and afraid or in times when we are in pain. We see this when the two blind men cry out to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:
“As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” -Matthew 9:27
We can also bring the needs of others and their intentions to the foot of God’s merciful throne and intercede for our friends and family members who are suffering and in need of God’s mercy. There is great power in asking for God’s mercy on behalf of others. We see this in the Gospel in the faith of the Canaanite woman and the faith of the father asking for help for his epileptic son:
“And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.” – Matthew 17:14-15
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” – Matthew 15:21-22
Let us learn to approach God with confidence and entrust our sins, problems, and crosses to his merciful heart.
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.