I was struck as always by the story of the good Samaritan when I read it today. I am sure that I have heard that story like a thousand times. But it is such a beautiful story especially now during this year of mercy as declared church-wide by Pope Francis. It gets me thinking about mercy in a different way every single time I read it. Since this declaration was made by the pope, how (as Christians) have we viewed mercy? What do we think about when we hear the word mercy being spoken about?
We should be looking at mercy from two angles: the mercy we are shown and the mercy we can show to others. Similarly, the mercy we are shown can be split further into two categories: The mercy we are shown by God and the mercy we receive from man. It is my opinion that the mercy we receive from God should be the most important object of our attention. For from that mercy flows the grace to show mercy to others and the grace to ignore the failings of men when they refuse to show mercy to us.
We truly have no control over the mercy we receive. What we have is the reassurance that unlike man, the mercy we receive from God is unfailing, undying and unwavering. On the other hand, what we have control over is the mercy we can show to others. That is because it is the only genuine two-fold difference we can make-with our lives and in the lives of others. We achieve this with each singular act of mercy we show. Since we cannot guarantee how much mercy we receive from others, God’s mercy exists to perfect every yearning our souls might have for mercy.
Looking up at the crucifix, we see in it the symbol of the outpouring of God’s mercy through Christ. Two ordinary pieces of wood transcend time to symbolise the suffering and death of an innocent man Jesus Christ out of his pure love and mercy towards us. This fount of mercy was outpoured once and for all at the cross of Calvary when a lance pierced the side of Jesus, releasing the water and blood of mercy from Jesus.
The grace of God is sufficient for us. When we plant ourselves by the river of life which is Christ, we will not lack mercy. This is the mercy that Jesus refers to in this parable of the Good Samaritan. It is the type of mercy that breaks down boundaries of duty, prejudice, and self righteousness. It is the mercy that humbles us and makes us not only realise our mortality but appreciate that the true meaning of our lives is in reciprocating this mercy which we freely receive from God.
Prejudice is rotten. It has infiltrated mankind and made an absolute mess of the wealth and variety with which God spiced up his creation. Prejudice requires everyone to look exactly like you. It is the biggest lie of Satan . It is planted to set all of mankind against each other. It says there should be no difference between people. It makes us fight these differences among one another when we should embrace the power that we acquire as a result of the variety of cultures, languages, races, religions, beliefs and so on that exist in humanity.
St Paul says that Christ is the image of God1. When we allow God’s truth flow through us, accept his mercy and do his will, we become like God. We assume this image too. By assuming God’s image, we serve him perfectly in others by showing mercy and breaking down all prejudice and barriers to our mission of service to God. By dismantling prejudice, our lives become richer. We begin to store up our treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed 2.
What are you doing to make a difference in another person’s life? Mercy is not just a mission for this year as announced by the Pope but a call to a new way of life for those who aspire to go to God’s kingdom. It is not about acquiring wealth but about giving health to the spiritual lives of the souls all around us. It is about affecting others positively. When we are able to achieve this then we can proudly say that we are living our lives in style and with true purpose.
May the good Lord continually show us his mercy and strengthen our walk with Jesus Christ today and always. Amen.
- Colossians 1:15
- Matthew 6:19-21
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