Mercy seems like an obvious trait for someone to desire. After all, we always want to be shown mercy from those in power over us. When mercy is actually shown, however, we often think less if that power. We think that person is too soft for the position or too weak to enforce the rules. We consider them suckers and fools, gullible and weak-minded. Some people have “Show no mercy” as their life motto, even going so far as tattooing such prominently on their bodies. This view is even held by many Christians, at least until they talk about God. Then, they say mercy is a good thing. I’m never sure that they mean it though, that they don’t still view mercy as a weakness even in God. This negative view of mercy originates in humanity’s deep-seated arrogance. We desire to feel powerful so we twist our perception of mercy as something we have done. We want to believe that we have pulled one over on authority, manipulated the situation somehow. That way we don’t have to admit our own weakness.

This perception tragically prevents us from seeing the strength mercy requires.Punishing someone is easy. Letting someone face the “natural consequences” of his/her actions is easy. Strictly enforcing enforcing the rules is easy. Showing passion and forgiveness takes true strength because people often view those merciful acts as freebies instead of opportunities to change that they really are. God bestows mercy to give us the chance to grow. It is an act of love. Let’s face it. In many ways, it would be simpler for God to just wipe us out. Humanity is, after all, an awful lot of trouble. Instead, God’s love gives us those second chances we so desperately need. This beatitude is pointing out the obvious: If God shows us mercy, we can do no less for our fellow man.

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