Such a short word for something so incredibly huge.
It’s grace wrapped up in unconditional love. It’s offering love, forgiveness, and grace when human nature would say what the recipient truly deserves is the exact opposite.
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7
Let’s dissect this definition of mercy a little more:
Grace: a noun that refers to offering/granting a desired action/item/sentiment that the recipient did not earn. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve it, it simply means there is no reciprocation for the gift, nor has the recipient done anything, or done any work, or contributed in any way to the giver that may have made the giver feel obligated or inclined to give the “gift”. It is a a gift, in-kind, with no strings attached.
Examples: Bringing a meal to your friend and her family when she is going through chemo. Offering rides to neighborhood kids – just because! A foot rub for your spouse at the end of the day. A bouquet of flowers for your daughter’s room to brighten it up. A conversation over a cup of tea with an old friend even though your schedule is jammed. Many times, we are also graced in return for these efforts. But we don’t do it for repayment or anything like that.
Grace is something we do well, at least for the most part. Grace is the “good girl’s” middle name, isn’t it?! 😉
Mercy: a noun that refers to offering/granting something the recipient did not earn…AND ACTUALLY DESERVES THE OPPOSITE.
Examples: Offering rides to the neighborhood kids – right after they egged your house. A foot rub for your spouse after he criticizes the messiness of the house and the subpar dinner he believes you just served. A bouquet of flowers for your daughter’s room even when she screamed “I HATE YOU” at the top of her lungs as she left for school this morning. It’s forgiving a devastating betrayal – as in really forgiving it…and forgetting it, too.
Now, when things are going well for us, it is possible to dispense a little mercy on others, isn’t it (especially if we love them)? We take our little mercy-filled eye dropper and start doling it out – sometimes just a drop, but other times (if we are in a really good place…!) we can send it out in a nice, steady stream until the dropper has emptied.
But what about when the mercy we need to offer comes with the price tag of forgiveness? When someone has done you such a wrong that instead of love and mercy, you feel resentment? Instead of drippy tears of sweet mercy falling from your dropper, it’s suddenly filled with thoughts of revenge, anger, and incredulous indignation at the thought of granting grace, let alone mercy? Can you EVEN imagine?!
Not so easy, is it.
I read something interesting recently by Brene Brown, author of Rising Strong. She says, “In order for forgiveness to really happen, something else has to die.”
In other words, deeply embedded into the concept of mercy is grief. In order to be merciful, you will need to let go – or grieve – your own ideas, expectations, thoughts, JUDGEMENT, etc. on how things should be. You have to say goodbye to your will and once again return to a posture and attitude of meekness (remember, that means eyes on God – focusing on His will – see Matthew 5:5 lesson).
The ultimate act of mercy was God offering His only son as the means by which we are saved. Can you even imagine the grief of that sacrifice?
It won’t be easy on this side of heaven to accomplish it. But at least with this Beatitude, we are reminded to try. We’re becoming more and more like Christ with each attempt at mercy.
Jesus demonstrated pure mercy throughout His ministry and continues to dole it out like a fire hydrant that has been unplugged, spraying the water out in seemingly never-ending streams.
So how can we rewrite Matthew 5:7? How about like this:
Blessed are those who let loose the hydrant valves of mercy and douse ALL who need it, for they will be soaked through by it as well.
According to the Vatican’s website, the jubilee year (beginning on December 8th – the Year of Mercy) has its roots in the Monastic law when every fiftieth year was made holy for the Jewish people. Debts were canceled, slaves were freed, and lands were restored to their “original owners.”
Pope Frances cites the scriptural focus for the jubilee year will be Christ’s command from Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Which, if you’re keeping notes here, is tucked inside Luke’s version of Matthew 5 – only he calls it the Sermon on the Plain!)
When Pope Francis was interviewed on his reasons and thoughts in calling for this to be The Year of Mercy, beginning in December, he said this: Mercy is not “a prize for the perfect but powerful medicine and nourishment for everyone…” Ooooh, that’s good.
Everyone gets mercy from Jesus. No one gets carded at the door. No one.
Can I get an AMEN?!
Enjoy your week, sweet friends.
Peace, love, and JOY!
Up Next Week: Are you pure (in heart)?