"The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. Upon the plain beneath." So wrote The Bard of Avon many centuries ago. I like his image of mercy as shower of "gentle rain". That is what we need. We do not want that heavy, heavy rain that accompanies a thunderstorm. There is no gentleness in that shower. Because mercy of its essence is gentle, the shower we associate mercy must be gentle. How about a gentle mist, that falls so gentle that we are not aware of what has happened, or is happening until we become aware our clothes are damp? How gentle the morning dew? Nothing is disturbed by it, yet what a transformation is brought about by its presence? Now let the light shine on those gentle dew drops and a new wonder-full new world is revealed. This only happens when we take the time to seek and see.
Why is this seeking and searching so important? Well for starters, 75% of the Parables of our Great Teacher were about mercy and compassion. Have you noticed how often that word mercy now appears in the new Eucharistic prayer? Now that Greek word for mercy, elison, is now more present to us, it requires us to look beyond the English to the original language from which this word sprung. Mercy, we will discover to our surprise and consolation, points us to the following. We are directed to thoughts of an oil, that brings to us comfort. It is an oil which soothes pain and relieves distress. It is a dynamic gentle force that comes to us as gift, it is free and brings about freedom from within. There never a question of worthiness and this mercy asks nothing in return. If it did, it would not be a gift. This gift is way beyond our understanding. Why? We have nothing in our lived experience that can replicate, duplicate this reality. A reality that makes it's dwelling within us. Grand-parents, at times, can come close. They can only point to the possibility, however. As mercy-full and loving, our grand-parents are only fingers pointing us in the direction of the infinite mercy of our gracious Father-God.
This is a reality, because it is infinite, that cannot be "strained". We can however strain the reality and the following will surface. Behind and within we will also find the following, compassion, caring, attentiveness, fairness, tolerance, sensitivity, kindness, gentleness and responsiveness without judgment or complaint, (the Good Samaritan). We can say these are just some of the qualities of the mercy that is showered down upon us from heaven. Each and every one of us are in the need of some, or all, of these many qualities of grace, on a daily basis. Why? We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Because we are enfleshed in a humanity, that is not fully transformed, we are going to face feelings of upset, discontent, fear, worry, etc. etc. It is then we need to imagine being out in the rain, or under the shower, and what we feel in not drops of water but drops of whatever aspect of eleos, mercy, we are in most need of at that very moment. As has been suggested before whenever you take a shower, or you are caught in a shower, see it as God showering some aspect of His mercy you are in most need of right now. Here is a suggestion, make a list of all that mercy, eleos, means. Place it on the mirror in your bathroom. When you go for a shower check the tenderizing, transforming, gift you need. Make a conscious effort to own the need and claim the particular gift. Then this is what will be showered down upon you, enlivening the merciful Presence which is already within you.
An English mystic has written the following about God, “He abides patiently, He forgives easily, He understands mercifully and He, get this, forgets utterly." Now how many of us have been raised immersed, in the reality of that God? The God so many have known is the very opposite and hence a false god. One that must be not only denied, but out and out rejected. This idol must be destroyed by us, or we will be destroyed ourselves. It not easy to get rid of false gods. They have taken up a dwelling, created by us, and are easily evicted. This is where prayer and fasting comes in.
We have made it so easy to go to Hell and so difficult to go to Heaven. [If we choose to go to Hell, we will not be sent to Hell, we will have to fight every step of the way to the gates of Hell.] We must keep in mind the reality of who we are, we are the chosen, the beloved, we are ever and always "overshadowed by His love”. When we are not actively claiming who we are in God's love, beloved, we are then living a lie. We find ourselves treating ourselves not as human beings, but as human doers. The “doing” must be perfect, or else there is no vestige of lasting happiness or any semblance of satisfaction. Then the second guessing begins and the persecution, the beating up of one’s self follows. During His Sacred Passion Jesus was flogged. He was flogged by those who were just doing their job, the soldiers. The soldiers, innocent. They were following orders. Here is a question to reflect on until next week, in whose body is Jesus being flogged today, right now? Who is doing the flogging? What are the present days whips by which the contemporary Christ is flogged?