As I read scripture and encounter Jesus, it amazes me how His words still challenge me, even though I’ve read and heard the same words time and again for years now. One of the biggest challenges that He presents me with is the call to be merciful.
Jesus’ entire life is an exhibit of the perfect mercy of God, and sometimes that is lost of me. Jesus didn’t have to come into the world, He didn’t have to become a man, He didn’t have to be born and grow up as a child, He didn’t have to give His life for us.
Besides all of those big points, there are all of the different examples of Jesus showing mercy to individuals:
- The woman caught in adultery, John 8:1-11
- Healing the leper, Matthew 8:1-4
- Calming the Storm at Sea, Matthew 8:23-27
- Healing a paralytic, Matthew 9:1-7
- Healing the blind man, Bartimaeus, Mark 10:46-52
There are countless instances like this, so I just listed a few. Jesus went out to the “poorest of the poor”, as Bl. Mother Teresa would call them. Jesus heard them call His name, and when they had faith and asked that He would heal them “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean”, and Jesus healed them. This ought to encourage us all to call on Jesus to heal us, whether it is a physical illness or not. We just must have faith, and ask.
But Jesus wanted more than just to have mercy on us all, He also wanted to teach us to follow His example. We see in Matthew 10:7-8, we see Jesus commissioning the Apostles, “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” We see a similar theme in John 13:34-35, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” The most striking scene that I can think of is the washing of the disciples’ feet, where Jesus said,
“Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” – John 13:12-15
The challenge for us is to be humble enough to put others before ourselves. This means everyone: even when it is inconvenient, when it is uncomfortable, whenever. Remember how Jesus healed a leper? Do you know what leprosy is? It’s a super contagious skin disease can be transmitted by just touching someone with it. These people were banished from society in Jesus’ time. And what did Jesus do? Not only did He allow a leper to approach Him, but Jesus touched Him! Jesus could have gotten leprosy, too! He was willing to take that risk. What risks are we willing to take?
The Corporal Works of Mercy:
- To feed the hungry
- To give drink to the thirsty
- To clothe the naked
- To harbor the harbourless
- To visit the sick
- To ransom the captive
- To bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy:
- To instruct the ignorant
- To consul the doubtful
- To admonish sinners
- To bear wrongs patiently
- To forgive offenses patiently
- To comfort the afflicted
- To pray for the living and the dead
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and and you visited me.” – Matthew 25:34-36
“Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:8-10
“Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.” – St. Augustine