Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
January 24th, 2014
Bob Whipple, Jr.
English Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial of St. Frances de Sales
[315] 1 Samuel 24:3-21
Psalm 57:2, 3-4, 6+11
Mark 3:13-19

My reading of the Samuel verse and the Psalm makes me think about mercy, and the nature thereof.  We hear the word mercy often enough, and I wonder if with such familiarity and frequency, we run the risk of not paying attention to what its meaning(s) are.  Begging for mercy, being merciful, “Oh mercy me!” “Merciful heavens, what next?”…the list can go on.

I’ll fall back to a tactic a lot of my first-year students employ:  definition.  The online Merriam-Webster dictionary (thank you, Wikipedia) gives the following definitions (among others): “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power”… “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion…” and “compassionate treatment of those in distress” (“Mercy”).

We see the first definition active when David spares Saul (how Saul must have completely freaked out when David showed him the piece of his mantle he’d cut off!) We also see it when we forgive someone who may have done us harm.  We see the second when we contemplate how God is continually merciful to us; we see the third in Christ’s injunctions for us to care for the sick, the poor, and the distressed.  Mercy is, therefore, multivariate and all around us.  We are merciful when we adopt a shelter animal if and when we can; we are merciful when we think of others before ourselves; we are merciful when we forgive.  Mercy isn’t easy (especially in the forgiveness mode), but, spread judiciously* and graciously, it tends to make our world more pleasant. 

Or so I think.

* Now there’s a question: when do we need to be merciful, and when do we need to “hold the line”?

Work Cited:

"Mercy." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercy>

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