Blessed are the merciful, those who offer mercy and compassion, who take pity on, who are kind, charming, generous and gracious to others, ultimately, forgiving them. Those who seek to understand another and why they are where they are in life. Those who help and sustain those in trouble. In other words, those who take the time and trouble to see and hear the person before them as they truly are—they are the merciful.
Jesus so often asked, “What do you want?” of the people He met. And then He helped them and healed them. He changed their lives because He was ultimately interested to see the whole person before Him and what their needs were. Two women in the 20th and 21st centuries have shown us what it is to be merciful: Mother Teresa who saw not just the need for shelter and food in the people she found on the streets in Calcutta, India, but the even greater need to be seen and valued for who they were, and Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker Movement, who “was a staunch adherent to the church’s ‘preferred option for the poor.’ ”
Compassion and caring, help and sustenance, dedication and generosity—these are the qualities that the merciful have in full. They see all the people before them as children of the same God and Father of us all. They have dedicated their lives to helping others. They express a profound love of God in helping other people. They have gone through the previous rungs on the ladder of the Beatitudes: acknowledged their own poverty, mourned their suffering and pain, become humble, just one of billions of children of God, hungered and thirsted for righteousness for all people. Now they can now express their love for God as God has loved them—with compassion, forgiveness, love and generosity, leading them to His created purpose for others as He did for them.
What blessing, what grace for the merciful: God is helping them to do for others what He has done in their own lives! And God is there, at their side, helping them to fill the needs of the downtrodden, the forgotten, the sick and dying, the other, the outsider. Like Paul, I am sure they feel their weaknesses, but God through the Holy Spirit covers their blunders and converts them into positive accomplishments. Aided by God, they can accomplish miracles, just as we can when our lives are accomplishing the purposes for which we are created.
What is your purpose? Has God shown you glimpses of it? Or revealed it in full? How much do you listen for God’s “still, small voice” in your life? Do you recognize His voice readily? Or only with great difficulty? Do you know that He will most often float ideas to you to which you would naturally respond, “Oh, I can’t do that!” God is bound to offer suggestions that you have never entertained to do in your life. And yet, if we follow His suggestions, He will be there guiding us each step of the way. We are no longer on our own, but walking hand and hand with God in all that we do. And, if we are listening to His voice within us, He will suggest what we are to say to this person and to that one; he will guide our speech so that it conforms to His will for the person—something which we are unable to discern.
Isaiah 55:10ff God tells us how this happens:
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
No matter whether we feel worthy of spreading His word or not, with God at our side, His word will accomplish what He intends for it. The burden that we fear is on us has shifted to the Holy Spirit who sees to the effect it has on people’s lives. And as we spread that word, we will experience nothing but joy and peace, “bursting into song” at the wonder of it all.
Being merciful does not mean we are acting on our own. We are sustained and supported by God whose Holy Spirit makes sure the word is heard and believed. All we have to do is to be merciful towards our fellow human beings and God does all the rest. Amen!
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I forgiving, kind-hearted, compassionate, merciful to all that I meet? What would I need to give up or to heal in order to be merciful to all of God’s children? Am I willing to pray for the healing of all that separates me from God and me for His children?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who see all others through the lens of God’s love. May we be kind and compassionate and merciful to all the people we see. May we be love and mercy in this world.
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 Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), Strong’s # 2858 & 1796, pp.1407 & 1547