In the first four Beatitudes we saw Jesus describing the attitudes that a true disciple should have towards God. As we move to the fifth Beatitude, we see a shift towards how to live in response to these attitudes. If a disciple is to live out their hunger for righteousness, their lives would be characterized by the actions found in the last four Beatitudes.
Today we focus in on mercy. Perhaps it is wise to first be reminded of the mercy that is exhibited by our God. We consistently receive that which we do not deserve from God. Whether it is his provision for us or the grace that he freely offers, we are consistently awarded that which we could not attain and should not be able to attain.
In response to the mercy shown to us by God, we to are called to show mercy to others. We are called to give to those who are in need simply because they are in need. We are called to forgive to those who wrong us remembering that we too are often in need of forgiveness. We are called to show kindness to the hurting, even if they have nothing to offer in return.
However, mercy is not always easy to offer. It is easy for us to get wrapped up in our own worlds and talk ourselves out of intervening in the life of someone in need. It is easy for us to believe that people who got themselves into messes should be forced to get themselves out. Mercy requires living with an awareness that surpasses our natural tendencies towards self-interest. However, when we realize that we are surrounded by a world in need, we are forced to choose to offer mercy or to deny it.
The promise associated with this Beatitude is that those who choose to show mercy would receive mercy from our God. This is not saying that salvation is available to us as long as we serve the poor or help the hurting. It is rather a reminder that we who profess a relationship with Christ have already experienced and will continue to experience the mercy offered to us in that, when we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Take some time today to ask God to show you the needs of the people who around you. Ask him to give you the opportunity to show mercy today. Perhaps it will come in the form of assistance. Perhaps you will yourself forgiving someone who has wronged you recently. Whatever it is, as you demonstrate mercy to those around you, may it be a reminder of the mercy shown to you by our Savior’s death on the cross. Perhaps your acts of mercy today will lead to an opportunity to share the story of Christ’s ultimate act of mercy.