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Mercy Meets Misery

March 27, Monday, the Fifth week of Lent
Daniel 13: 41c-62; John 8-1-11

Never tire of asking God for forgiveness, for He who is mercy meets us in our misery.  

Dr. A.J. Cronin was a great Christian physician in England. One night he assigned a young nurse to a little boy who had been brought to the hospital suffering from diphtheria. A tube was inserted into the boy’s throat to help him breathe. It was the nurse’s job periodically to clean out the tube. As the nurse sat beside the boy’s bed, she accidentally dozed off. She awakened to find that the tube had become blocked. Not knowing what to do, she called the doctor from his home. By the time the doctor reached the hospital, the boy was already dead.

Dr. Cronin was angry beyond expression. He called her into his room and trembling with anger he read the letter seeking her dismissal. She stood there in pitiful silence, a tall, thin, helpless girl. In a soft voice she uttered this pitiful request, “…please give me another chance.”  Inspired by the urge to forgive, Dr. Cronin went to his desk and tore up the report. He forgave her. In the years that followed, the nervous girl became the head of a large hospital and one of the more honoured nurses in England.

The experience of forgiveness transforms a sinner into a saint. Oscar Wilde said, “the only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”  

In the gospel according to John chapter 8 verses 1-11 we have the powerful narrative of Jesus forgiving the woman accused of adultery. The scribes and Pharisees brought forward a woman caught in the act of adultery. The Mosaic penalty for such an offense was death by stoning or by strangulation. In the Gospel according to St John chapter 8, verse 11 Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and from now on do not sin again.”  Jesus is thus portrayed as a living expression of the Divine Mercy more concerned with forgiveness and rehabilitation than with punishment and death.

At the end of the year of mercy, the apostolic letter of Pope Francis had the title Misericordia et misera. This means Mercy and Misery. He took this expression from St. Augustine. It recounts the story of Jesus meeting the woman caught in adultery. The phrase “Mercy meets misery’ expresses the mystery of God’s love. That is why Pope Francis in his first Sunday homily as Pope declared: “God never tires of forgiving us…. It’s we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”

Let us learn to acknowledge our sins, ask God’s forgiveness every day, and extend the same forgiveness to our erring brothers and sisters.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.