Happy and blessed 6: the merciful

Happy and blessed 6:

The merciful

East window of Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy – Matthew 5:7 ESVUK

This is straightforward, isn’t it? Merciful people are shown mercy. How can I write a blog on that? When someone shows mercy it makes headlines, positive headlines, it is generally agreed that being merciful is good. But that it makes headlines is also the problem. Mercy makes headlines because it is rare.

This passage, one of 8 Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel does not occur in the 4 Beatitudes in Luke where there is a corresponding curse to each blessing. However, Matthew’s Gospel reports Jesus’ teaching in Chapter 25:31-46, a parable about the last judgement which is depicted in the east window of Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, shown above. The words below the window read:

Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and ye gave me meat, thirsty and ye gave me drink.
I was a stranger and ye took me in.
I was naked and ye clothed me.
I was sick and ye visited me.
I was in prison and ye came unto me.

To those who did show mercy, Jesus says:

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ Matthew 25:45

Luke tells a story to a similar effect, check it out here, Luke 10:25-37.

A man was set upon by robbers and a Levite and a Priest walked past. It was a despised foreigner, a Samaritan that came, wasted his time by stopping for the man, binding his wounds and taking him to an inn. Risked his own safety, there were obviously violent robbers in the area, and spent his money on paying for a room. That is mercy, helping people when it costs you, even when you are at risk. We are asked to do the same. To show mercy at our risk or cost. Mercy is more powerful than pity. The Levite and Priest may have felt pity. But they did not show any mercy. By showing mercy we are letting God’s mercy show in our lives.

Sadly that kind of self-giving mercy is only too rare.

Be merciful,
God is merciful,
Be like God.

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