Mercy is not old-fashioned. It is a quality that is crucial if we want to be constructive and refrain from participating in any blame game - be it local or global. In 21st century usage "social skills" or "empathy" are more frequent terms, but the wisdom of time-tested concepts is deeper. Mercy is not just a skill, which facilitates interaction with others. Mercy is the real thing, it is an astonishing, grand virtue. It has three sisters: humanity, compassion, and forgiveness. Mercy is a warm, generous approach to things and people. Mercy is happy with benevolence, and benevolence alone. Mercy is so powerful because it flows directly from Love, God, itself, the source of every constructive and healing thought and act.
The Webster 1828 adds to the exploration of mercy and states:
"That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant."
The #1 parable for mercy is the good Samaritan as told by Jesus and as recorded in the Bible. He relates this parable to drive home a point, to answer a question posed by a lawyer – therefore by someone whose daily profession has to do with justice, with separating right from wrong. The lawyer had asked what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus, having referred him to the law, receives this answer: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." Jesus' reply is straightforward and clear: "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live."
What Jesus does in answering the question, who our neighbors are, is to shift the lawyer’s thought away from justice towards mercy. Mercy doesn’t care about the right or wrong – mercy just is. The Samaritan, we learn, doesn’t ask whether the victim provoked the thieves, wore something strange or shocking or did anything offensive so as to deserve being beaten up. The Samaritan doesn’t check whether the victim is part of his own tribe or a stranger. The Samaritan sees the need and acts. He is caring in an unselfed way for his fellow-man, while others ignore his desperation and needs. The Samaritan helps and supports the healing of the crime victim - before continuing his own journey and continuing to care for his fellow-man even while pursuing his own route. The parable seems to suggest that the Samaritan is so engaged with unselfed care for his neighbor, that the love for God and man are realized and lived as a law. He is too busy to weigh the options, he lives the law.
In an article published after a racist attack on an innocent group of people, a thoughtful article appeared by Anand Giridharadas “A Welcome Chorus of Discordant Disagreement“ stated: “We aren’t you, we seem to say to the attackers — not because we are the opposite of you, but because we are big enough to hold you and your opposite and everything between, and not choose, and live on.“ (NYTimes, January 19, 2015)
Mercy knows the path to reconciliation, mutual understanding, and healing. Mercy will do the trick.
Mary Baker Eddy mentioned in an address for an audience in Chicago: “I will gain a balance on the side of good, my true being. This alone gives me the forces of God wherewith to overcome all error.“ (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 104)
In a way this could be called „Mercy for the 21st century – there is the present possibility to tip the balance for the side of good, globally. We can and are big enough.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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