Jesus said to his disciples:”Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,will be poured into your lap. For the measure you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Lk 6,36-38
Jesus teaches his disciples on a mountain in Matthew’s gospel. In Luke’s gospel, read today, Jesus prays on a mountain, then descends to the plain to call his disciples to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Jesus, like his Father, is our merciful Savior. Mercy is recalled in most of our readings this week of Lent.
Mercy is a gift that goes beyond judgment or condemnation. The father of the prodigal son neither judges of condemns his son. He takes nothing away from him. Instead, he calls for a bountiful feast. “Bring a robe–the best one–and put it on him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” God’s mercy is like that, surprising, not bound by caution, boundless.
Lent and Easter are seasons of mercy. I think of the founder of my community, St. Paul of the Cross, who preached in the small towns of the Tuscan Maremma in this season. Poverty was pervasive in that area then and it made people wary of each other. Feuds, quarrels and vendettas were common in the small mountain towns. They needed reminding of God’s mercy.
It’s said that Paul would often carry a cross into a deeply divided home and beg family members to forgive one another or their enemies next door in the name of Jesus Christ. A forgiving God asked them to forgive.
let me see in myself
the same human frailty, selfishness and sinfulness that I see in others.
Let me be merciful
with the mercy that I see in you.