Mercy. One of my favorite words. How do I understand it and how does it affect how I act? I think that I, as a child of God, have a responsibility to be merciful to all other children of God, human and others. I also need to be merciful to myself. Jesus certainly preached the importance of mercy in the Beatitudes, Mathew 5:7. Our beloved Micah 6:8 tells us pithily what the Lord requires of us, using “kindness” instead of “mercy”.
How do I apply these in my life? When my cousin needs a ride to UCSF because she has vertigo, I offer her a ride. People in this church have given me rides when I could not drive, and have shown me mercy. My cousin sometimes feels compelled to make fun of my pronunciation, so I caution her that I will not drive her if she ridicules me. Self-mercy.
Shakespeare certainly was aware of these teachings in “The Merchant of Venice” Act IV, Scene 1:
Portia “The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath; it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes….”
I feel mercy toward our fellow creatures on Earth, not just to people. I feel a particular empathy and affection for marine mammals, so I volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito. I’ve learned that when we dump plastics, made from petroleum, into landfills or streams, they end up in oceans, and are eaten by fish, and eventually by marine mammals and people. Mercy for marine mammals becomes mercy for people as it informs our decisions. We sink or swim together. God bless us every one.