“For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:38)
What does it mean to be merciful and why is mercy such an important virtue in the spiritual life? Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel passage that to be merciful is, firstly, to refrain from judging and condemning others. Secondly, mercy is the ability to forgive those who offend us and thirdly, mercy is giving to those in need; doing charity without counting the cost.
It is one thing to identify something bad in someone’s behaviour, a different thing altogether to write off the person as good for nothing. This is like throwing out both the baby and the bath water. To the most hardened of sinners, Jesus applied mercy; he ate and drank with them. Like we saw in the movie, “Beauty and the Beast”, mercy is being able to love the Beast despite its ugliness so that its true nature as a handsome man can come out.
The second aspect of mercy is forgiveness. Jesus says “forgive and you will be forgiven.” God’s mercy is clearly revealed in the largeness of his heart to forgive. Ezekiel 33:11 says: “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” Forgiveness is risky, yet it helps to break down the walls we often build around ourselves in an attempt to avoid being hurt. The more walls we build, (that is, the more persons we fail to forgive), the tinnier our world becomes. Fear not, your worst enemy right now may just be your life-saver tomorrow. Forgive.
The third aspect of Mercy as Jesus describes in today’s Gospel passage is charity; giving – helping the needy. To be merciful is to put oneself in the shoes of another. It is being able to feel the pains of others as our own pains and doing something to alleviate their plight. In Matthew 25:34-36 Jesus says: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Children must resemble their father, their DNA must match. If we are not merciful, we cannot claim to be children of God and we really have no business in heaven. Your best possible life can only happen when you are merciful. Your heart is too precious to be used as a storage device for hurt, bitterness and vengeance.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, take away my fears and give me a merciful heart like yours. Amen.
(Monday of the 2nd Week of Lent. Bible Study: Daniel 9:4-10, Psalm 79 and Luke 6:36-38).