Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Let us say for ourselves, Lord Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy

In today’s meditation in The Lenten Spring by Father Thomas Hopko, we are reminded of the true meaning of mercy.

It is the word “mercy” that leads to a wrong understanding of the Kyrie Eleison. We tend today to think of mercy almost exclusively in terms of justice. The opposite of being justly judged and therefore condemned, is to receive mercy. So the “Lord, have mercy” gets interpreted as “Lord, grant us pardon!” Or, “Lord, let us off!” In the scriptures and tradition, however, mercy is not primarily the antonym of justice. It is rather a word for goodness, kindness, generosity and love. St. John the Merciful, for example, was not a just judge who showed mercy on criminals. He was a bishop who distinguished himself as a helper and servant of the poor, the lowly, the needy and the afflicted. (From Lenten Spring, page 61-62)

During this Great Lent we find ourselves begging for the Lord’s mercy each night in our prayers and in the prayers of the Church. I am reminded though of the parable of the Good Samaritan where Jesus reveals that mercy is found in acts of charity. Jesus asked, “’So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10.36-37)

Let us embrace the Great Lent with acts of charity for each other and say for ourselves; Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

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