Mercy gets its name from Hebrew and Greek words that describes how God takes the relationship with human beings seriously – and how we are to take our own relationships with each other just as seriously. When Jesus is challenged to sum up Scripture, we find mercy at the heart of it. What does it mean to love God and our neighbors as ourselves? According to Jesus, it’s mercy. The Samaritan traveler loved his neighbor by showing mercy – by giving himself to care for the needs of a stranger who had been left by the roadside to die.
Taking our relationships with one another seriously means that our lives, as Dorothy Day said, are anchored in the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, satisfying the thirsty, visiting the prisoner, caring for the sick, welcoming the stranger. This is the anchor that holds us true to Jesus, the one who gave his life – not just in his death but through the whole of his ministry – to reconcile our broken world.
But we don’t do our work out of a do-gooder sense of charity. Our lives of radical commitment come from the recognition that all of us need liberation. We are all part of – and we all share in the pain of – our broken world. As one woman has famously said, “If you have come to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
We find liberation in being an intentionally diverse community. We cross a thousand lines of segregation every time we come together. And every time we com together – for worship, work, or advocacy – we give witness through our uncommon diversity that our broken world is being mended.
Mercy is one small community of disciples giving ourselves through our commitment and action to heal a broken world. It isn’t always easy. But we take joy in knowing that God finds world revolution in mustard seeds.