I hope you are not tired of the Beatitudes. I’m still reading and being inspired by E. Easwaran for my reflections.
Blessed are those who show mercy, mercy shall be shown to them. Matthew 5:7
These things that Jesus asks of us are not easy. Purity. Humility. Simplicity. Love. Patience. And now…Mercy.
Mercy. I’m not seeing a lot of mercy when I look at the news.
I look at the world around us, even our friends are challenging us and we are probably challenging them. I think of the words of the Teachers: take opportunities of being challenged to practice all these things we speak of. Purity of heart. Love. Patience. Kindness. Mercy.
I’m not sure I’m evolved so much that I can be thankful for the opportunity to be challenged, but I can accept the practice and do my best. We may not be perfect, but we can try. And we have one another to remind us to be merciful and kind.
This is why we gather each Sunday together. To rest, to reflect, and to resolve. This week, may we resolve to be Merciful.
One of the most merciful acts of the Bible is that of the woman who, at her own risk, offers Jesus a cup of water when he is struggling to hold up the Cross.
Perhaps it is easy for us to offer mercy in dramatic moments. Perhaps it is not. But we do not begin practicing mercy in these big moments. Every one of these concepts begins…at home. Really home, as in within ourselves. Are we merciful to ourselves? But since that is more challenging than it should be, let us look close, but not that close.
Think about a person who challenges you. Someone who seems unkind, or drives you crazy, or is mean. Now, think of a person who is always kind to you. Always good. What happens when each of these people snaps at you?
The first, you expect that behavior of them. In fact, you might be waiting for it to happen. You might think, of course they did that to me, they always do that to me. Your expectation is reinforced. The second, you might wonder what is going on with so and so, because they never act like that. You wonder if they’re okay?
Who are you merciful toward? There’s at least three people involved here. Who were you merciful toward? The “mean” one? The kind one? Yourself?
It’s much easier to be merciful to those who are, well, easier to be around. It’s easy to be good with good company. That’s why it’s wise to surround yourself with good company; those are the people who emulate the qualities we want to embrace.
What happens if you snap back at the mean one? You create a cycle of expectations…for both of you. What might have happened if you had met that first one with mercy? How could you have met that first one with mercy? “How” is also important to think about. Setting yourself up for a better chance of success with a bit of preparation and study.
Kindness, mercy, love…it all starts at home. How can we resolve to be more merciful?
If we can not meet ourself, our family, our friends, our co-workers with mercy how can we expect to be merciful toward a world at large? A world full of challenges and triggers? We don’t suddenly become merciful in big, charged situations. We become merciful by practicing little things in our daily lives. Our daily lives matter.
This might sound like an odd question, but how do you drive? More to the point, how do you behave when you drive? Are you an angry driver? Are you a frustrated driver? Are you a vindictive driver? Are you a merciless driver?
What happens when someone cuts you off? How do you react? What do you do when someone tries to pass you? How do you react? What happens if someone accidentally takes the foot off the break and rolls into your car? How do you react?
These are likely your default reactions. Are they merciful?
A friend of mine likes to tell the story of the two wolves inside of us. The angry, frustrated wolf that meets the world as if the world is out to get it. The other greets the world with love. We all have both of these wolves within us. How do we know which one will be stronger? It’s the one you feed. Which wolf are you feeding? Jesus helps us to remember to feed our compassionate side.
How do you react to strangers when driving?
I used to be an angry driver. Sometimes, I default back to this. But I realized if I can’t be kind when I’m alone in my car to a stranger who’s situation I don’t know…how can I ever be kind to someone confronting me? It’s a place to practice…when no one is watching. Except maybe God.
Mercy is kindness to all. How can we resolve to be more merciful?
“Whenever violence breaks out, no matter how cleverly we try to justify it, we are crucifying the spirit of Christ.” (Easwaran) Wow, those are strong words.
What if it’s true that every time we cause pain, we help to keep Christ nailed to the cross. If he is on the cross bearing our suffering and the suffering we cause, what happens when we lessen the suffering of others?
What happens when we behave with mercy?
Mercy could be called the highest law of life. Kindness at all costs. How can we resolve to be more merciful?
When we find ourselves in difficulty with someone, perhaps this is a challenge to practice mercy. Perhaps, each time we get behind the wheel of our car, we have an opportunity to quietly, and without credit or an audience, practice mercy.
When we practice mercy, we take away some of the burden of the Cross. We take away some of Christ’s burden of pain. Did you know that passion, as in the Passion of the Christ, has the same root as patience? Patience is interlinked with mercy.
When we practice the Beatitude, really practice them, we lessen the suffering of others. Perhaps we even lighten the weight of the Cross.
Always balance challenge with Good Company. Good company sets the example and reminds us to be the best versions of ourselves. That’s why I’m so looking forward to gathering together again. To be reminded to be the best version of myself by surrounding myself with good company.
God, may I let the fruits of your Spirit grow in me this week. Spirit of love abide in my heart as I listen to stories different to my own. Spirit of joy beam in my eyes as I meet the gaze of another.Spirit of peace breathe through my attitude.Spirit of kindness blow through the words I speak.Spirit of patience breeze across my frustration before I say or act. Spirit of faithfulness guard me when I am tempted to stray. Spirit of generosity spill over in all I think or do or say. Spirit of self control do not limit, but channel the abundance of your fruits as I partake in your transforming ways blowing through this week. (–Tess Ward)