Thursday, October 5, 2017

Met Georges Khodr: Mercy

Arabic original here.


Mercy is when a person embraces others, when he places them within his heart. But how do we treat people in actual reality? First we have an image of them that might come from their behavior and might come from our imagination. It is not true that we have precise knowledge of every person. We imagine that this person is such a way because we were told that he is from such-and-such a town and the people of that town are miserly or generous. We can't hold a man to his town's reputation. Then we say that his grandfather treated us in such-and-such a way and so he must be like his grandfather. The Bible has taught us that a person does not bear his father's sin and that everyone is his own person.

In addition to this, in our environment, we think that a person behaves in a certain way because he belongs to a certain religious community. This is not true. A given religious community is not all the same. Of course, someone might find a difference between himself and other people and be unable to bear such differences, wanting people to all say the same thing as him, whatever that might be.

Mercy is our taking everyone as he is and seeing his behavior as it is, not because he is from this village or this religious community. There are good people in every place and every society who may belong to any number of different countries or creeds. It is not true that they are wicked or fanatical merely because they belong to one of them. So mercy today means first and foremost that we see the person as he is and interact with him as he is, without regard to what groups he belongs to.

The person before us may be weak, and so we interact with him on this basis. The person before us may be a cheat, a liar or a thief, and so we interact with him on the basis of the Christian mindset that is in the Gospel. We do not keep silent about evils, but rather we resist them with gentle persuasion, with mercy, with affection, with goodness. We resist evils with good behavior, as the Apostle Peter says in his first epistle, " not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing..." (1 Peter 3:9) 

We do good to another person with good behavior and so, without judging him, we condemn with kindness. The person before us whom we cultivate with this spiritual beauty that is within us is vexed because the liar, the cheat and the thief are troubled if they are faced with a good person. His existence stands as a rebuke to them. And so begins hostility toward every upright person: "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).

The Lord Jesus' answer to all of this is "be merciful." This is the secret. Why must we be merciful with those who are hostile to us? Because we have been delegated with shepherding them. Every person is someone's shepherd. Following the example of the compassionate Samaritan woman, each one of us takes care of the other, saves him.

God made us each other's shepherds or, to put it in other words, each one is the other's physician. Why must I have mercy on my enemy? The answer: because you know his fault. His enmity has brought him near to you. You know his shortcomings and you treat them. Each one of us must purify his heart from all enmity and see the other because he is one of God's children.

We do not have enemies. The people around us are all God's children and God's children have in them good and bad. Christianity is a realistic religion. It is a religion of treating people with love and mercy.

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