We don’t hear much about mercy anymore. Have you noticed that? I find that disappointing and worry that we don’t hear the word because most people no longer practice mercy or know what it really means.
Mercy has to do with compassion and with grace. Remember compassion, anyone? And who knows what grace means these days? God gives grace. Grace is a participation in the life of God. It’s a precious gift that makes us more like God every time He heaps it upon us. We just have to ask for it and be open to receive it. Jesus shows mercy and expects mercy from all of us. It’s the ability to forgive people for the things they’ve done that have hurt others and themselves. It’s the desire to make broken people whole and to heal when we could harm.
When we harm out of spite, or anger, or just because we can because we have the ability or the power, that’s the polar opposite of mercy. Have you heard about people, or even institutions doing that to people? We have to figure out a way to listen to each other, to love one another without conditions. That’s what God’s grace can do for you. And that’s where mercy comes from.
If you’ve ever heard the parable about the prodigal son, that’s a beautiful story about mercy. You can find it in the New Testament Gospel of Luke. Check out Chapter 15, verses 11 through 32. I’ll wait.
Well? What did you think? The dad in that story represents God. Who are you in the story? Are you the older brother who is upset with the dad for forgiving and welcoming back the younger brother? I hope not. Life’s too short to hold grudges. Re-read what the father says to his older son about all the dad has already belonging to his older, obedient son. It’s all good. Just keep doing what you’re doing, except welcome your little bro home now, too!
You can be the prodigal son. Prodigal means extravagant, by the way. If you’ve done some things you’re not proud of, even too many things, God will take you back. He is merciful! That’s full of mercy, our topic today. God knows your heart and if you are truly sorry for all the harm you’ve caused yourself and others, God will forgive you. And, oh, how heaven will rejoice!
To get back to my initial thought today, where is mercy? Those in our society who join in the hate do not know the meaning of the word and very few, outside of certain religious persuasions, hardly ever talk about it. To be a little less preachy, it’s also a classy virtue. That’s also in short supply these days in the public square.
Here’s a song about the prodigal son and his dear, sweet, amazing father. We should all run to him, and just melt into his loving, forgiving embrace. And then remember that awesome feeling and go and do the same for others.