Grace to you!
Today’s reflection is focused on mercy as a crucial attribute of virtuous life.
Let’s begin with you. I mean, you as you are and I as I am. Specifically, you and I as believers. We as people granted the grace of faith. People called in love to communion with our Creator.
Is it because we are perfect? Is it because we merit the grace? Is it because we earned it?
Basic Christian theology teaches us that the choice is first made by God our creator. “You did not choose me. I chose you” says the Lord (Jn 15: 16).
Another way to express this incredible grace is to say that despite our weaknesses, God brought us to himself. God looked at us with mercy and kindness. God’s love expressed in tender compassion gave us access of belonginess unto His divine life.
In mercy, we are begotten. In compassionate love, we are enveloped.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, was spot on in describing God’s compassionate love--The Name of God is Mercy(2016). Because of God’s mercy, you and I have a shot for renewed life. Such a life is virtuous.
We read from one of the oldest Old Testament texts, Deuteronomy, how God’s covenant with His people has an essential attribute of mercy (Dt 9:4-5). Also, the Lord Jesus would speak to his disciples then, and us now, of the need to lead by way of mercy. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).
Since virtuous life is a life lived following the Lord’s example, the practice of mercy is an essential element of that life.
Now we’ve got some work to do. To lead by way of mercy is to be moved by compassion first. Anyone who leads only by justice first, can hardly practice mercy.
If an imagery may be used to distinguish mercy and justice, it is that mercy looks at wounds first and finds ways of healing it because it thinks of the vulnerability of the wounded. Justice looks at the guilty-wounded and seeks ways of having him pay for what he has done before thinking of healing for the wound.
Perspectives matter. When God looks at us, with which eye does He look first. I doubt if it is with the eye of justice. I believe it is with the eye of mercy.
Mercy is the eye with which we look and find the vulnerable in need of healing. Mercy is the thought in which we think how we could show compassion. Mercy are the hands and feet with which we touch wounds and bring relief despite the concrete situations of the wounded. Mercy is indeed the way by which we become like God in concrete, messy practical situations.
It may be more difficult to demonstrate love. Love is vast, deep and sometimes too personal to be measured. Mercy is seen and touched and felt. Through mercy, the virtuous could easily be seen. Through mercy, the glory of the loving God and the freshness of the loving heart could be witnessed.
Let’s get on this Lent and every day, practicing little acts of mercy and compassion. Such is a life of virtue.
Oh Merciful Lord, make us instruments of your mercy and compassion in our everyday life and in the community in which we live. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Lent Week 2: Dt 9:4-10; Lk 6:36-38]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .