His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. – Luke 1:50
It seems to me that mercy is at the heart of the Gospel. In mercy, the shepherd goes looking for the lost sheep. In mercy, the father scans the horizon, looking for the return of his long-lost runaway child. In mercy, Jesus heals men and women of their various ills. In mercy, Jesus shares truth with a Samaritan woman at the well. In mercy, Jesus sets a child on his very own lap and suggests we be more like that child than like ourselves! Scandalous, eh?
As I survey the scriptures ever so briefly, reading and hearing the many stories of Jesus and his mercy, I find myself bewildered at the complete lack of charity amongst so many of them that (or those who) claim to follow him.
It seems to me that Advent invites us to ponder the mystery of mercy. God is not merciful because we deserve it; I’m not even sure we need mercy, most of the time. We’re generally fairly decent to one another; faithful in church, home, work, and school. We’re honest in our dealings with one another; keep our acid tongues in check; grin and bear life as best we can. So why is God merciful?
Because it is God’s nature to extend mercy to all those who are perfectly imperfect. It is the mercy of God that allows us to “fear” God. Not with knee-shaking fear, but humble adoration. And being the recipients of God’s loving mercy, we take time to extend a merciful hand to the world around us, for our world, too, is desperate to be held in the strong, loving, and merciful arms of God.
God, have mercy on us, sinners of your own redeeming. Forgive us our shortcomings during this season of cold and dark days and help us to see your mercy in action during this Advent season, for that is the mercy we and this world of yours so desperately need! Amen.