THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2016
THE MEANING OF MERCY - 2
“The Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (Jas
5:11b). Mercy is withholding the just punishment for transgression.
“He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited
us as our wrongs deserve.” (Ps 103:10). We deserve condemnation
for our sins, but God, who is merciful, does not exact the
punishment that should be inflicted upon us. Rather, God forgives
and brings us to salvation. God “redeems your life from
the pit” (Ps 103:4a).
has several facets.
mercy is about forgiveness. God “pardons all your sins,
and heals all your ills” (Ps 103:3). Given our repentance,
God forgives, forgets, cancels our debt, and wipes the slate
clean. “He will not always accuse, and nurses no lasting
anger” (Ps 103:9). God reconciles us to Himself, enabling
us to enter into His holy presence. “As far as the east
is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.”
mercy is about compassion. God “crowns you with mercy
and compassion” (Ps 103:4b). Compassion is deep awareness
of the suffering of the other. It is not just superficial
pity. It is what prods one to try to do something about the
sorry situation of the other.
mercy is about forbearance. It is being patience in the face
of provocation. It is being slow to anger. “Merciful
and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy.”
mercy is about looking to the well-being of those who are
in dire and desperate situations. “The Lord does righteous
deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed.” (Ps 103:6).
It is realizing that I am my brother’s keeper, especially
for the least and the last.
mercy is about desiring the good of the other. God “fills
your days with good things, so your youth is renewed like
the eagle’s.” (Ps 103:5). Ultimately, mercy is
about salvation, entering into the fullness of God’s
love for all eternity. This is why we are passionate about
the work of evangelization, as the greatest act of mercy is
to evangelize and bring people to Christ.
Mercy is critical in human relationships, especially in such
intimate relationships as in the family and in community.
We can see from all the facets above how true mercy can make
such radical differences in relationships.
certainly would be true for husband and wife. Spouses will
always have problems and differences, but they end up separated
or divorced “because of the hardness of (their) hearts”
(Mk 10:5a). Rather, understanding the mercy of God, and realizing
that we too are called by Jesus to then be merciful to others,
and knowing the dire consequences of not extending mercy to
others as God has been merciful to us, these instill in us
the fear of God who does punish transgression (when His mercy
is refused) and the awe of God who designed such a lofty and
sacred relationship as marriage. “For as the heavens
tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear
him.” (Ps 103:11). Couples would stay together and work
things out, certainly with the help of God, if only they realized
who God is and what God has designed for them. “Therefore
what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
is crucial in community relationships. It is so easy, given
differences, for relationships to be strained and for conflicts
to arise. But mercy brings forth positive traits that help
Not speaking against. “Do not complain, brothers,
about one another” (Jas 5:9a). Differences turn into
conflicts where there is loose talk, or insidious gossip,
or maligning of the other.
patient with one another. “Take as an example of hardship
and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name
of the Lord.” (Jas 5:10). Mercy recognizes the shortcomings
of others and the need for us to be patient with them.
through difficult times, even in extreme affliction. “Indeed
we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard
of the perseverance of Job” (Jas 5:11a). Mercy allows
us to bear suffering and pain, including what is unjustly
inflicted upon us. Mercy enables us to accept these as our
crosses and embrace them, even as we look to the icon of
mercy, Christ crucified.