Mercy

Read: St. Matthew 5:1-9

Jesus said, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Over the arched doorway of a large hospital the following words are engraved in white stone so that all who enter may read and ponder: “Mercy is a room in our hearts for the misery of others.”

Mercy is, as it were, a special room in our hearts which is stored with genuine concern for others. In the Greek language both mercy and pity are synonymous. The same word is frequently used when describing the attitude of God toward fallen sinners. Paul wrote to the Corinthians for instance, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4

Jesus uses the same word when He tells us in the text quoted above, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” We are to follow the example of His Father and our Father.

While mercy can include a wide spectrum of meanings, in this particular instance the Savior is asking us to be slow to judge and quick to forgive. In this department of our Christian lives how difficult we frequently find it to locate that room marked, “Mercy!” How often we must fight the temptation to show spite, vindictiveness, bitterness, or anger. Ever and again we need to pray for the Holy Spirit given graces included in the simple word mercy, namely slowness to judge and readiness to forgive.

By nature we are quick to judge and slow to forgive. Jesus tells us that this is the very opposite of mercy. Hearts that love have been warmed by the love of God, revealed to us through Jesus Christ, our Savior, and are to reflect His love in their dealings with their fellowmen. He who took divine pity on us expects us to reach out to our fellowmen in love and kindness which reflects His own. How appropriate the prayer:

Oh, let me never speak What bounds of truth exceedeth:
Grant that no idle word From out my mouth proceedeth;
And grant, then, when in my place I must and ought to speak,
My words grant pow’r and grace, Lest I offend the weak.

 

How has prayer helped you? How does your personal prayer time and communal prayer time in worship inform and feed you? Look for more stories of prayer in next week’s Monday Meditation.