God’s grace and mercy are spoken of abundantly in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Victor Hugo depicted an act of God’s mercy in his classic novel Les Miserables set in 19th-century France during the French Revolution.
The story of a man, John Valjean, imprisoned for 20 years simply because he stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving family.
By the time he is released from prison, on parole, he has transformed from a caring family man into a hardened, embittered person with no hope for the future.
On his final release from jail, and unsupported in any way, he was refused a bed for the night by an innkeeper on a rainy evening.
Valjean knocked on the door of a church rectory and asked for lodgings. The resident Bishop opened up his home, giving him a warm meal and a comfortable bed for the night.
Valjean however has become unused to displays of kindness, or of showing any gratitude either.
So, in the middle of the night, he sneaks out, takes the Bishops’s sacramental silver plates and chalice and runs off with them.
In the morning the police catch him with the church silver and bring him back to the Bishop for questioning.
Valjean is terrified as he knows that if he is found guilty of theft a second time he will be permanently imprisoned.
The police tell the Bishop that the prisoner told them he gave the silver to him as a gift.
The Bishop offers Unwarranted Kindness to Valjean
The Bishop, most unexpectedly says, yes I did, I also gave him our silver candlesticks but he seems to have left those behind.
As the police leave, satisfied that no crime has been committed, Valjean is completely and utterly astonished at this unwarranted kindness.
The Bishop then retrieves two silver candlesticks, the only remaining property he has left of any material value, and hands them to Valjean.
He offers Valjean absolution of his sins and challenges him to use the silver to transform himself into a new man, and Valjean does exactly that.
He chose to be reborn and decided to take another path in life, tearing up his criminal identification papers and taking up a new alias, he built a good life as an honest man.
The thing is the Bishop offered something that was undeserved, he could have quite easily asked for justice and had Valjean sent back to jail.
But he not only offered mercy and a new life, he also offered abundant gifts, everything he had in fact.
God’s Grace and Forgiveness
This is what God’s grace and mercy look like when we turn to him in faith and humility.
None of us are perfect, perhaps we could think of anything that we might have done wrong and pray to God for His mercy and forgiveness today.