If a person is not familiar with the context of forgiveness and mercy, (s)he does not know about Christianity. Jesus Christ is mercy, and I am trying, in a very unworthy way, to say the few things I know and the few things I have learned how to do according to the Word of Christ. The Church is called to exercise mercy, to exercise hope for every person, because in every person, even in the darkest and most corrupt one, there is a lost sheep. In every person there is something lost to find, God is looking for this person, even for the one we may define as ‘of the worst kind’. Very often the major criminals on the earth have been potential saints who have not allowed to be found, who have renounced their faith; the search for them should have been better. Hitler could have been certainly a saint, Stalin could have been a man of God. Inside every man there is a lost sheep, because no one was born by chance, “you love everything you have created and loathe nothing you have created”.
Our Heavenly Father does not want any of these little ones to get lost. “If your brother sins, reproach him alone; if he listens to you, you will get your brother; if he does not listen to you, take one or two more people with you, so as to have two or three witnesses; if he refuses to listen to them too, tell it to an assembly, if he does not want to listen even to the assembly, let him be as a pagan for you. Verily I say: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
This text has been an astonishing misunderstanding. For example, there are people who interpret it as an opportunity for the Church to excommunicate in certain cases. If we read it very carefully, we cannot say that, there are texts by St. Paul about excommunication. Whereas this passage means to say something different. If your brother sins, reproach him because mercy is not falsehood and hypocrisy. “Mercy and truth will meet; justice and peace shall kiss”; this psalm says that the Messiah is the One who brings truth and mercy together, the exercise of mercy in truth and the other way around.
Forgiveness costs blood both to those who give and to those who receive it, otherwise it is ineffective. Being forgiven is humiliating. Jesus meets Peter after resurrected and asks him a question: “Peter, do you love me?” Peter replied confidently: “Of course I love you, Lord”, and the Lord: “Feed my sheep.” He repeats the same question for three times, and the third time Peter replies sadly: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Why does the Lord ask him this question thrice? Because Peter disowned him thrice. Jesus tortures him until he sadly says: I disowned You thrice, now You know that I love you, but I have not always done so.
Everybody cries when they are forgiven. Even St. Francis was crying. There is a portrait of this character, probably made while he was still alive, where one can see him wiping his tears. Sources mention the following sentence, which cannot be directly attributed to Francis, but describes well his soul: “I bewail unloved love”. Bewailing unloved love, crying one’s own sins is an important thing to do!