– Monday of the 2nd Week of Lent –
‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned …’ [Luke 6:36-37]
It is almost impossible to show real mercy without having experienced mercy ourselves. Without that experience, we have no idea what mercy is.
Too easily, mercy can become confused with other things that we instinctively do: putting up with others, acting in a kindly fashion but keeping our real thoughts to ourselves, or being nice to people even though we cannot stand them.
None of these is mercy.
The road to experiencing mercy is rocky. A human being calls out for mercy from the depths of his or her weakness and need, which are experiences we like to avoid acknowledging. However, without the deep acceptance of our condition, our desire for mercy tends to be superficial if it exists at all.
It is the person who has confronted his or her weakness and inadequacy who calls out to God from the depth of his or her heart. Consequently, it is the person who receives God’s mercy in his or her need, who knows how to show it to others. There are no shortcuts.
Once again, this is where the Lenten encouragement to pray, fast and undertake works of mercy comes in. Our attempts to open our hearts to God and serve those we encounter confronts us with our inadequacy. It is as we face the reality of our need that we begin truly to reach out to the merciful One, and so to learn to live as Jesus calls us to live in today’s text.
By Shane Dwyer