FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2016
MERCY AND COMPASSION
February 27, 2016
There is no god like our God. Our God is a God of mercy. “Who is a God like you, who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; who does not persist in anger forever, but instead delights in mercy” (Mi 7:18). David, who had sinned grievously against God, knew the mercy of God. It is He “Who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills, who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with mercy and compassion” (Ps 103:3-4).
The mercy of God is beautifully illustrated in today’s three parables–that of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. God searches for the lost. God longs for sinners to repent and be reconciled with Him. God never gives up on anyone. And when the sinner does repent and return to Him, God rejoices.
Now mercy is more than what we understand to be compassion. Compassion has to do with pity, empathizing with the sorry state of another. “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.” (Lk 15:20b). The father saw an emaciated and bedraggled son, and he felt sorry for him. But mercy is acting on that compassion. “He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Lk 15:20c). The father not only ignored the son’s prepared speech, but he clothed his son in proper attire and called for a celebration. In other words, the father did not exact just punishment on the son for his sins, but forgave and restored him. “He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve.” (Ps 103:10).
Now we experience God’s mercy. We in turn are to be merciful as God is merciful. The parable of the lost son ends on a sour note, with regard to the older son. The younger son, being shown mercy, is moved from death to life, from being lost to being found, from sin to grace. The older son, in withholding mercy, remains unmoved by the pleadings of his father, and is now the one who is estranged. The younger son has reentered the family home, while the older son refuses to enter the house.
Can we blame the older son? His reasoning is sound. “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.” (Lk 15:29-30). He felt cheated with what he considered to be an unjust act of his father. He was morally indignant.
Well, that is exactly what mercy is. it is unreasonable, uncalled for, undeserved, lavish and unfair. It withholds the punishment that is deserved, and gives the blessing that is undeserved. And we all are fortunate and blessed that this is how the mercy of God is. “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy.” (Ps 103:8).
What else can we say? “Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name!” (Ps 103:1).
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