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Be Merciful

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

“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 with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.’” (Luke 6:36-38)

To me, the concept of mercy usually conjures up mental images of impoverished people with hollow stares, those who are really down and out. But mercy is more than assisting those facing hard times, it’s about recognizing when extra care is needed. Sometimes those who need our mercy are people we encounter daily: the man in the adjacent care at the stoplight; the kid with purple hair seated nearby in a restaurant; or the neighbor with mental health issues. Some situations can cause a person to judge too quickly, to become irritated easily and to speak with harsh words rather than take a calming breath first.

Jesus implores His disciples to be merciful. Today’s culture is fast-paced and offers a multitude of opportunities to pass judgment. But we can choose between judging others and passing on some mercy.

Consider the elderly person in front of you in line who counts change carefully and deliberately. Are you merciful by waiting patiently? Or how about the rusty, loud car emitting black smoke puffs ahead of you? Are you merciful in your comments and gestures? What about the coworker who’s a little more withdrawn and quiet today? Do you know what burdens he or she is dealing with today?

Or the sharp words you used with someone yesterday? Did they deserve a little more mercy?

I like to consider the “backstory” of people I encounter, like what experiences have affected them. What makes them tick? What weighs heavy on their hearts, and what makes them happy? Are they scared, broke, grieving, stressed or depressed? If only I knew, maybe I could interact differently and respond with kinder words.

If you extend mercy to those you encounter today, what will you have accomplished by day’s end? A cynic might say “probably nothing,” but the optimist would recognize that the gesture may be returned in his or her time of need. There is probably someone you can think of right now who is merciful in their treatment of others. And you can probably think of someone to reach out to today with a little mercy. Who needs you today?

Ready your heart so your words and actions are kind.

God of mercy, lead us closer to You.

We call upon Your Holy Spirit to guide us in our words and actions,

Helping us to offer Your grace and mercy those around us

as You bestow us with everlasting love. Amen.

Deann Holland
Community Relations Director, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center

DANIEL 9:4B-10 • PSALM 79:8, 9, 11 AND 13 • LUKE 6:36-38

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