Our Lord tells us, "It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice."
Lately many people online seem to have a problem understanding the concept of mercy. I'm always surprised by that. Even some priests. One in particular, when he was newly ordained, understood mercy very well. Like many others online, he now seems to think mercy is misunderstood, abused or taken for granted, even a sort of 'cheap grace'. That's sad.
The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of "mercy" seem to cause uneasiness in man ... Bl. John Paul II
I think it would be good to go back and read what Blessed John Paul II wrote about mercy, and to study the Devotion to the Divine Mercy more closely - and even more importantly, to 'practice' mercy in our lives, and to pray the chaplet - as a means to learn the meaning of mercy, as well as obtain mercy for ourselves and others.
I've always understood Christian mercy as "divine love moved by (human) misery" which is the meaning of the word, misericordia. God, who is rich in mercy, rushes to meet his prodigal son even before the son is able to confess and express his sorrow for his sin. God's mercy seeks us and meets us even when we are caught in the brambles of sin. The shepherd stoops down to grasp the lost sheep. The Gospel is alive with mercy. That is the "Good News"!
Today examples of mercy are needed - in real life.
For priests, perhaps the confessor St. Leopold Mandić is one such example.
Like an early desert father - he took upon himself the penances others thought he should be giving his penitents. Isn't that kind? Isn't that generous? Isn't that love? Isn't that mercy? Carrying one an others burdens. Being moved with pity by the weakness of our brothers. St. Leopold made himself available for confession - like a watchman, he waited at the gates to reconcile those who passed by.
A couple of quotes from St. Leopold...
"Some say that I am too good. But if you come and kneel before me, isn't this a sufficient proof that you want to have God's pardon? God's mercy is beyond all expectation."
"Be at peace; place everything on my shoulders. I will take care of it." He once explained, "I give my penitents only small penances because I do the rest myself."
"A priest must die from apostolic hard work; there is no other death worthy of a priest."
Leopold suffered from esophagus cancer, which would ultimately lead to his death at age 76. On July 30, 1942, while preparing for the liturgy, he collapsed on the floor. He was then brought to his cell, where he was given the last rites. Friars that had gathered at his bed began singing the Salve Regina and saw that Leopold died as they sang "O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary." - Source
Padre Leopoldo wrote on a picture of the Blessed Virgin in 1927: "I. Fr. Leopoldo Mandie Zarevic. believe that the Blessed Virgin as Co-Redemptress of the human race is the moral cause of all grace - everything we receive comes from her fullness. "On one occasion he solemnly wrote: "The August Mother of God is in truth Co-Redemptress of the human race and source of all Grace. In fact, on the one hand we have in her the most perfect obedience to God's laws and, after her Son, the most perfect innocence: He, impeccable by His nature, she, impeccable by Grace. On the other hand we see her as Our Lady of Sorrows, as He was the Man of Sorrows. If, therefore, by eternal decree of God, the Immaculate Virgin was the moral victim of sorrow as her Son was the physical victim, and if God's avenging Justice found no shadow of fault in them, it follows: inevitably that they were paying the price of the sins of others, that is of mankind."
Showing mercy is a kindness. Sometimes we can suffer something for other sinners unrepentant, unconverted, unconfessed - those far away. We can pray and make sacrifices for sinners who have no one to pray for them.
It seems to me it is not enough to define mercy - we need to have mercy, to show mercy, to practice mercy. Without counting, without measure, giving our shirt and our coat as well, going not one mile, but two, three, seven times seventy out of our way.
Before His own townspeople, in Nazareth, Christ refers to the words of the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." - Dives in Misericordia