“Hail, full of grace!”
Grace and gratitude
It is interesting that the words “grace” and “gratitude” have similar etymologies. They derive from the Latin word gratus, which means both pleasing and thankful (pleased). This reveals a practical way of understanding John Paul II’s description of mercy as “bilateral”, or two-sided:
An act of merciful love is only really such when we are deeply convinced at the moment that we perform it that we are at the same time receiving mercy from the people who are accepting it from us. If this bilateral and reciprocal quality is absent, our actions are not yet true acts of mercy…
Dives in Misericordia
The fact is, when we accept grace from others, we not only receive mercy, but give it in return. Think about how frustrating it is when an act of kindness is refused. An act of selflessness finds its fulfillment in acceptance.
In this we see that we should always accept a compliment, an apology, an act of love and mercy. Contrary to our prideful instincts, refusing goodness usually does more hurt to the one giving than to ourselves. It is in acceptance that we become truly graceful, pleased and pleasing.