23rd MARCH

Freedom for the merciful

Matthew 5: 7

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

“Little things make a big difference:  valuing people”.  This slogan spoke to me in a whole number of ways:  about mercy and about so many of the other blessings that Jesus spoke about.  Mercy, which is often understood as the power to forgive and give another a second chance, is not just seen in the big things that we do, but also in the little ones. 

The quote I started with was found in a website offering support to frontline workers in the NHS and was accompanied by three simple acts:  listening, learning and acting (acting on what we hear and learn).

What is key to being able to show mercy is the ability to listen.  All too often we find ourselves jumping to conclusions about other people.  We jump to conclusions about who they are and what they are like.  We make judgements based on what we see or what we think we see.  Jesus in the Gospels spent a lot of time listening as people came to him with all manner of problems and questions.  We need to listen more and hear what people are saying, understand what they are struggling with and seeing how we might help them along the way.

Listening with an open mind allows us to learn about another.  It challenges the stereotypes we might have of another and stops us from prejudging.  It is only by listening can we begin to understand one another.  It is also only by listening to God that we can truly know the blessings of being merciful to others.  It is only by receiving from him and understanding something of his generosity towards us that we begin to understand what he requires of us.  He forgives us and gives us chance after chance because he is our God of new beginnings.

May we learn to listen  more than we do.  May we take time to learn about God, others and self.  May our listening about mercy and what we learn about it inspire us to act in a way that is merciful because it is what God expects of each and every one of us.  It is what has the power to make this world a better and more tolerant place.

  • Have you experienced mercy and known what it is like to have been given a second chance?  How easy is it to show mercy to others?  How might faith help?

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors . . .

easier said than done Lord!

Soften our hearts and open them to others.

Show us the difference that mercy can make both in our lives

and through our lives to see that change for good.