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” (Matthew 5:7). I suppose, the theme would resonate with many especially now that we in the Catholic Tradition, are in the Year of Mercy.
I love how Bishop Robert Barron described Divine Mercy. 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’s an unmerited forgiveness. It’s warm empathy. It’s equally a compassionate disposition.
The merciful person does not look at faults or hurts or injuries or evils committed. The merciful looks at the culprit of these evils, faults or hurts.
While justice focuses on the sin, mercy focuses on the sinner. Lady Justice is a powerful imagery to show the difference between mercy and justice.
Blind folded, 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 waver of vindication. It doesn’t matter if person A or B committed the crime. No faces are seen. This is the most vivid picture of justice.
On the other hand, mercy looks in the face of the criminal or culprit; weighs also the tone of his or her voice, the person’s expressions and circumstances. 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 the good environment for the wounds to be healed. It never gives up on anybody.
Mercy is another name for the true organism, granted benefit of the doubt. Not always black and white, because each wound is unique and the clemency 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 represented in the shepherd who lost a sheep, a woman who lost a coin and the father of the prodigal son; the merciful, perfect in mercy and love, who constantly searches for the lost, to heal and reinstate them to wholeness.
God’s justice isn’t blind justice either. God’s 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, and always is, to reconcile us with God.
The heart that is merciful, 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, disposition of mercy wins the prize of mercy too.
Finally, as Jesus invited us to strive to be perfect in our love, as our heavenly father is perfect in his love (Matthew 5:48), may we reach that maturity 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, June 14, 2016, Ordinary Time: 1 Kings 21:17-29; Matthew 5:43-48]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.