Being Blessed: Mid-Summer Meditations on the Beatitudes (6 of 10)

Jesus said: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”

Mercy is not safe-distance-or-passing-moment pity, but always up-close-and-personal sympathy.

When I am merciful, which is another way of saying, when I am compassionate or acting with compassion,(1) I, without the need for judgment or the desire to judge, am able to see through the eyes of another. I am able to be as another, inhabiting another person’s life and experience; thinking and feeling as s/he thinks and feels.

The Return of the Prodigal Son (Le retour de lenfant prodigue), James_Tissot (1836-1902)

And, in keeping with the spiritual principle that what I give, I also (can) receive, to be merciful is to receive mercy.(2)

In my experience, I have discovered that the mercy I receive, sometimes, is from myself. For there have been moments, many, when I have been in the wrong; when I have been wrong. When I, in thought, word, or deed have harmed another. When I, in acknowledging my fault, have found it difficult to forgive myself. At such times, when I have sought to express my sorrow and, where and when possible, to make restitution, and then to seek God’s forgiveness,(3) I have discerned that I, then, am more able to receive God’s forgiveness, and then to forgive myself, to be merciful to me.

 

Footnotes:
(1) The word compassion is derived from com (“with” or “together”) + pati (“to suffer”). To have compassion, therefore, is to be able and willing to share another’s suffering. Thus, it is no surprise that Christians oft refer to Palm Sunday, that annual day of especial commemoration of Jesus’ crucifixion and death on a cross, as The Sunday of the (His) Passion.
(2) So, Jesus taught: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6.37-38)
(3) The pattern of seeking forgiveness, first, from the one I have offended, and (only) then from God, I have learned from reflecting on one of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: “When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5.23-24; my emphases)

Illustration: The Return of the Prodigal Son, James Tissot (1836-1902)

Note: I consider the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-32), especially in the father’s actions toward his prodigal younger son, to be an exquisite depiction of mercy; that small word and conjunction “and,” for me, a sign of the extravagance, the prodigality of the father’s outpouring of mercy…

For when the son, realizing his wrongs, went home, his father, always watching and waiting, while (the son) was still far off, (he) saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him…the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe, the best one, and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate (my emphases)

3 thoughts on “Being Blessed: Mid-Summer Meditations on the Beatitudes (6 of 10)

  1. Wow this is perfect Paul!! Compassion!! One of the things I miss most about Tim is the compassion he had for others!! His reputation on the street as a cop was that he’d give you every chance to walk away without locking you up UNLESS you gave him absolutely no choice. He’d listen to them without judging! Amazing!!

    Like you, I TOO have been wrong and then have to forgive others and myself!! It can be hard AND humbling!!! Mercy is an amazing thing isn’t it?? I’m sitting with Mom and whenever I’m in this house with these women I think about Mercy a lot!! I believe that Mom would say that in some sense folks with dementia experience Mercy because they have lost the capacity to judge and intentionally hurt others. And they don’t understand what’s on the news either. At this point Mom can only smile and nod and give you a hug!! And when she looks at me, I feel so much compassion and love. Sometimes dementia isn’t all that bad.

    Much love!!

    Like

  2. “…folks with dementia experience Mercy because they have lost the capacity to judge and intentionally hurt others.”

    Yes, I believe that to be true. Perhaps, in this, those who are afflicted with dementia are vessels of God’s grace, though without knowing it…

    And, on immediate second thought, how often have we been told that we were of help or of service or the grantor of a blessing or benefit to another and we hadn’t a conscious clue that we had done so? So, if we, any of us, who consider ourselves of sound mind can enhance another’s life, though we were not aware at the time, how much more might one, can one afflicted with dementia do the same? Infinitely, I think…

    In this regard, I now recall a word someone, Martin Smith, shared with me when I lamented the loss of my relationship with my mother whilst she was still alive in the body. Martin said: “Paul, we cannot know the relationship your mother has with God now, but I believe they continue in relationship.” I found that a comfort.

    Love

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your friend Martin sounds pretty smart!! Excellent point!!

    Like

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