Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Matthew 9:2-13 (NRSV)
And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
There’s not a lot of mercy running around these days. The opposing team is to be hated as an enemy. Kids get bullied at school. Laws and prisons demand punishment, not redemption, and ex-cons can’t find a job. Politics says that party affiliation requires slander of the other side. Whole narratives say to help is to enable. Our top movies teach that righteous violence is the best answer. Mercy is a scarce commodity. It’s not desired by the world’s idols.
I don’t like mercy. Mercy is scary and makes us feel vulnerable. It requires us to walk in someone else’s shoes. It says that we have to forgive those who don’t deserve forgiveness by the world’s rules, even if we can’t reconcile.
Luckily, the world doesn’t get to make all the rules. God does. Even when it looks like the world’s way wins, God calls us into a whole different way of being, one of mercy for one another.
What does mercy look like in our world today? Radically different! We Christians get the honor of living that odd, bewildering mercy for all the world to see. What a glorious honor we have, too. We get to show mercy to a world that desperately needs it.
God of mercy, show us, through the mercy you give us, what it means to be merciful to others. Help us love others as much as we love ourselves so that we can be recipients and givers of your infinite mercy and grace. Amen.
Go with God.