This morning, Tuesday 15 December, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor featured on ‘The Chris Evans Show’ on BBC Radio 2.
His ‘Pause for Thought’ reflection asks us to “think about mercy and forgiveness because it is the wellspring of joy and serenity and of peace”.
I wonder what is your favourite passage from Shakespeare? It could be from Hamlet: “To be or not to be”, or “Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. But you know what my passage is? It’s from The Merchant of Venice and it is this: The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed, it blesses him who gives and him who takes. If you forgive you will be blessed – forgive in your heart, but also, perhaps, by word or in deed. But it also blesses those who take. Sometimes we take forgiveness from a neighbour or a member of the family or a friend whom we have offended. But Shakespeare says, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. And that’s us.
I want to remind you today that God forgives. At times I feel very sad that our country sometimes seems so bereft of God. There is a writer, Julian Barnes, a very good one, and he says, I don’t believe in God but I miss Him. How people miss God. He is there to you even though you may not have experienced Him or perhaps have ignored Him or even abandoned Him.
There are nine days to go to Christmas. That festival is not only about family and festivity and fun and exchange of presents. It really is about the most extraordinary, wonderful present, the present of love and the present of forgiveness of God. I believe that He came among us 2000 years ago at Christmas in the person of Jesus Christ. He came to show that we are accepted by God and that we are forgiven by God and loved by God. He proved this by the manner of his life and death and his resurrection, so that He is with us still.
So in wishing you all a very happy Christmas, I would like you to think about mercy and forgiveness because it is the wellspring of joy and serenity and of peace. The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed, it blesseth him who gives and him that takes.
BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show