Beatitudes of the Merciful
"Blessed are the Merciful for they shall obtain Mercy" Mt 5:7
"I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance" Lk 5:32
We have seen that in desiring justice we in reality hunger and thirst for: "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in Heaven and on Earth". That is we hunger and thirst for God's World here and now, and not this distorted one we have to live in. What is God's World?
Fr McKenzie SJ: "Greece at the time of St Paul was a wealthy, peaceful, literate and cultivated world, based on the most stable government which man had ever set up. St Paul, in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, writes as a cultural barbarian seeing their philosophy, literature and arts as rich robes wrapped around a harlot. St Paul, the Apostles and Old Testament uttered their despair of human achievements and human institutions (they were not besotted by them as many are today), and as then it should force us all to consider where real and lasting security might be found." Certainly this cannot be in money, science and technology, bio-medicine, or electronic surveillance backed by the armed security of police or services.
If we think such human devices really can protect us we should think again, because God in an instant could render all of these blind and useless. History is rife with man's folly vying with the wisdom of God.
Let us look elsewhere for our security and happiness. According to Fr Coleridge SJ et al: "Our Lord's own mission on earth was essentially one of mercy. He will come again in judgement but His Incarnation was the highest work of the Mercy of God. He became Man out of pure mercy. He became Man in order that the Manhood which He took upon Himself, at the cost of His life, would be the instrument of God's special mercy in the redemption of the world, The Church He created was designed to be a vast organisation of mercy".
Jesus, therefore, came to create a new world and a new society. This defining mission statement for His new world was: Mercy and Mercifulness. The prodigal son is an excellent example among many other acts of mercy Jesus performed during His life, demonstrating God's mercifulness to all who seek His forgiveness through repentance.
It is only by climbing the Beatitudes ladder from poverty of spirit, meekness, mourning for all sins, giving rise to an insatiable hunger and thirst for God's Justice that we really begin to understand the need for mercy and acts of mercy. None of us is ever free of sin; we all need and should desire mercy for our sins, culpability and involvement in the sins of others by our silence, neglect or distancing.
As we climb the Beatitudes ladder in the bits and pieces for our daily lives, we gain gradual clarity as our blindness is replaced by a merciful sight and light which identifies sharply and clearly the needs of others without judging personal culpability for their plight; we have then replaced self by other. Jesus never did, nor should we, judge the culpability of others: the woman taken in adultery is a beautiful example of an act of Jesus's mercy.
In Part II we will define Mercy.