Grace to you!
We return to our reflections on the Sermon on the Mount. I would reflect on the theme of mercy in the light of the Fifth Beatitude, namely, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt 5:7). I suppose the theme would resonate with many.
I love how Bishop Robert Barron described Divine Mercy in one of his televised programs in 2016. He said that when God looks at us, amidst our unworthiness, his gaze is mercy.
Divine mercy appears to me like the open arms of Divine Love inviting us to reconciliation with him.
In my opinion, mercy is also a combination of qualities. It is unmerited forgiveness. It is warm empathy. It is equally a compassionate disposition. One may not be entirely wrong to describe mercy as unmerited forgiveness flowing from a compassionate heart who relates to the culprit with the mind of empathy.
The merciful person does not look at faults or hurts or evils committed, but first, at the face and heart of the one who may have committed these faults.
While justice focuses on the sin that may have been committed, mercy focuses on the sinner. Lady Justice is a powerful imagery to show the difference between mercy and justice.
Blindfolded, Lady Justice doesn't see faces. She keeps count of crimes, weighs them on her scale of justice, and comes down with the hammer of condemnation, or a waiver of vindication. It doesn't matter if person A or B committed the crime. Lady Justice does not see the faces and contours and struggles of A or B. She sees and reads what the letters say. The above imagery is the most vivid picture of justice.
On the other hand, mercy looks in the face of the criminal or culprit. It also weighs the tone of his or her voice, expressions, struggles, and circumstances. Mercy is like that mom who has a humbling child. She goes ahead and beyond, looking for ways to heal. Mercy sees people, not numbers.
Because mercy sees people, mercy is love expressed through compassion, forgiveness, and tenderness.
Similarly, Justice is like Math. Its methods are like numerical representation, built up through a series of arithmetic and algorithms. Strictly speaking, it's black and white because it's either-or.
Mercy, on the other hand, is like Biology. Its method is like an organism—and the sequence of its buildup is like through DNA. It can rebuild, despite failings. It sees wounds as living cells capable of regeneration. Mercy is equally an excellent environment for the healing of the wounds. It never gives up on anybody.
Mercy is another name for the real organism, granted the benefit of the doubt. Not always black and white, because each wound is unique, and the approach for each is gracious.
Observe the three parables of forgiveness in the Gospel of Luke 15: namely, the parable of the lost coin, the parable of the lost sheep, and the parable of the prodigal son. You will see that it was God who was represented in the shepherd who lost a sheep. God was also portrayed as a woman who lost a coin and as the father of the prodigal son. In all three metaphors, God is the merciful, perfect in mercy and love, who constantly searches for the lost, to heal and reinstate them. God seeks to restore his people.
God's justice isn't blind justice either. Divine justice is most appropriately called the "Justice of Charity" by Pope Benedict XVI. It's a justice that looks at faces and penetrates the heart with the tenderness of mercy because the goal is always to reconcile us with God.
The merciful heart, The Lord Jesus says, will be the one to receive mercy. Mercy is like oil, bringing closer to the merciful, the ointment of tenderness from others.
Do you want to be treated with tenderness? Then treat others with tenderness. Do you want to receive compassion? Be compassionate yourself. The condition is straightforward— a disposition of mercy wins the prize of mercy in return.
May we mature in the practice of compassionate love, the merciful love, where we no longer set boundaries to what we can forgive but set loose, the bonds of unforgiveness. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, Week 11 Ordinary Time: 1 Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48]
[Tuesday, June 14, 2016, Ordinary Time: 1 Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.