Mercy is …
rooted in hopefulness and freely given …
empowering, liberating, and transformative …
The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion.
Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy (2014)
All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it?”
Whenever I visualize Jesus eating with folks, I imagine the context of a school cafeteria. You know, the ones in the movies where cliques and various groups sit at separate tables, where the main character seems to be the one left out alone in the corner. And then I think about where I might fit into the scene.
The truth is, we probably all have been on either side of the scenario, both included and excluded, showing judgment and being judged. Maybe we have outcast others for what they have done, what they do or don’t like, or even who they are, allowing them to sit on the margins and not welcoming them to the table. Jesus calls us to show mercy, to offer forgiveness, and to be compassionate to all of God’s children. Jesus is showing acts of mercy by eating with both tax collectors and sinners. Jesus is living out God’s call to love, even if it means searching in the depths of night until all are found.
Anna Beth Cross
God of Love, you have shown me compassion and forgiveness.
May I be able to offer and celebrate acts of mercy around me, loving all of your children and setting a table big enough for all to be seated.
Go with love, showing compassion, offering forgiveness, seeking out kindness, sharing joy, and celebrating mercy. Amen.