November Word of Life

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“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7 ).

In Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount is found after the passages referring to the start of Jesus’ public life. The mountain is seen as a symbol of a new Mount Sinai on which Christ, the new Moses, offers his ‘law’. The previous chapter speaks of great crowds who began to follow Jesus and to whom he addressed his teachings. These words, however, are spoken by Jesus to the disciples and to the newly formed community who would later be called Christians. He introduces the ‘kingdom of heaven’ that lies at the very heart of his preaching, [i] The Beatitudes are its  manifesto, the message of salvation and the ‘synthesis of all the Good News that is the revelation of God’s saving love.’ [ii]

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive  mercy.”

What is mercy? Who are the merciful? The sentence is introduced by the word ‘blessed’. which means happy [iii] or fortunate and also takes on the meaning of being blessed by God.  In the text, this phrase has central place among the nine Beatitudes which do not refer to behaviour that will be rewarded but are real opportunities to become a little more like God.  The merciful, in particular, are those whose hearts are filled with love for him and for their brothers and sisters, a concrete love that favours the least, the forgotten, the poor and those in need of this selfless love. Mercy, in fact, is one of God’s attributes; [iv] Jesus himself is mercy.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy,”

The Beatitudes transform and revolutionise the most commonly held precepts of our thinking. They are not just words of consolation but have the power to change our hearts, to  create a new humanity and make the proclamation of the Word effective. We should live the beatitude of mercy with ourselves too and recognise that we are in need of that extraordinary, superabundant and immense love that God has for each of us.  The word mercy [v] comes from the Hebrew rehem, ‘womb’ and evokes a sense of limitless divine mercy, like the compassion of a mother for her child. It is ‘a love that is beyond measure, abundant, universal and concrete…  A love that tends to draw out a response from others which is the ultimate goal of mercy. … And so, if we have suffered due to any offence or any injustice, let us forgive and be forgiven. We can be the first to be merciful and  compassionate! Even if this seems difficult and challenging, let us ask ourselves, in front of each neighbour, how this person’s mother would behave towards him or her? It is a thought that helps us to understand and live according to the heart of God.’ [vi]

 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”

‘After two years of marriage, our daughter and her husband decided to separate. We welcomed her back into our home and during the moments of tension that followed, we tried to love her by being patient, forgiving  and having an attitude of understanding in our hearts. We maintained an open relationship with her and her husband, above all by trying not to be judgmental. After three months of listening, discreetly helping and many prayers, they were reunited and there is a different sense of awareness, trust and hope in their relationship.’ [vii]

Being merciful is more than forgiving. It means having a  heart that longs to cancel out and to burn away everything that may be an obstacle in our relationships with others. Jesus’ invitation to be merciful, offers us a means of returning to the original design of God and become what we were created to be: made in his image and likeness.

 Letizia Magri

[i]  Cf. Mt 4:23 & 5:19, 20.
[ii] C. Lubich Word of Life, Nov 2000
[iii] In Greek, makarios/i is used both to describe a fortunate, happy condition of human beings and to indicate the privileged status of the gods over that of human beings.
[iv] In Hebrew hesed, meaning selfless and welcoming love, ready to forgive
[v] [v] Rahamim in Hebrew.
[vi] C. Lubich Word of Life, Nov 2000
[vii] Taken from

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