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The term “mercy” has different shades of meaning in the Bible. God is the best example of mercy because even when the first parents sinned, He did not abandon them but showed them mercy like a father to his children. “The LORD God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them” (Gen 3:21). He promised them a redeemer to rescue them from their fallen state (Gen 3:15).

Psalm 33:5 says: “The earth is full of the mercy of the LORD.” God repeated his mercy even when Israel, the chosen people, committed sin violating their covenant with God. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Ps 103:13). Every verse in Psalm 136 repeats saying: “for his mercy endures forever.” Thus, recurring mercy came initially from God withholding the implementation of his justice over humanity.

Jesus taught that God also expects us to forgive those who offended us as an act of mercy. “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Mt 6:14-15). Jesus taught the precedence of mercy over sacrifice by saying: “if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24).

Mercy also means showing kindness towards one another. “Love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:35-36). The last judgement is also based on our acts of mercy (Mt 25: 31-46).


James reminds us the importance of practicing mercy: “The judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jm 2:13). Are we eligible to hear from Jesus at the last judgement: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:35-36).


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