Lenten Reflections Day 1: Define Mercy
The word Mercy finds its origines in middle english, from the alglo-french merci, and the latin word merced meaning ‘price paid or wages’. Mercy is a broad term referring to benevolence, forgiveness, kindness, and compassionate behavior. It is characterized by compassionate treatment, especially to those under one’s authority. A disposition to be kind and forgiving. It is also something for which to be thankful for, a blessing. And also the action of alleviating distress or offering relief. Synonyms include: leniency, lenity, clemency and charity. An antonym is cruelty. There were actually two words for mercy in the Greek bible, eleeo, which means to receive what is not earned, and oiktirmor, which means tenderness.
Shakespeare describes it as effortless and mutually beneficial to all parties involved; ‘The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes’ said Portia to Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice”.
Some claim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God. There is an entire Roman Catholic devotion to the idea, which follows and venerates Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, known as the ‘Apostle of Mercy’. This group desires to allow God’s love and mercy to flow from their own hearts toward those in need (shouldnt we all!?). Furthermore, the view mercy as the key element in God’s salvation plan–for it is through Mercy that He sent his Son to save mankind.
So, prehaps it is the greatest attribute of God? I admit I had not thought of Godly attributes as categorised in some sort of hierarchy until this morning. It is this tender, compassionate, blessing that is the crux of the entire Salvation plan–so prehaps Christ is Mercy personified (among other things of corse)? The best of God transferred to the Son in order that we might be filled with the very same Mercy through the Holy Spirit–amazing, and certainly motivating.