Mercy, Not Judgment
Recently, I have been hearing some pretty fierce criticism of a group. When responding to some remarks, I pointed out that the group had only six people but the expectations placed on them would require a couple of hundred to do the work. Each and every one of us has been in their position: overwhelmed by the work we have to do and smacked by criticism for not living up to other peoples’ expectations. We could cry, and sometimes we do.
As I get older, I am more and more convinced by Jesus’ injunction, ‘Do not judge.’ Oh yes there are some situations, yes, yes, yes but in the majority of situations we are involved in we don’t know a great deal and we can make some pretty sweeping judgements based on a lot of ignorance. I remember being shocked when I heard the numbers of the above group. In the seven years since, I have not heard one person ask if they had the adequate numbers to do the job expected. We need to stop and think, to ask what practical constraints might be on others’ shoulders, to imagine what situations others might be in that would lead to them acting in that manner.
Instead of practicing judgement, we need to practice mercy. We can begin this day, perhaps with the next person we met. We can ask (interiorly of course) what might be the troubles they are laboring under, what might be the joy and love upholding them? Just wondering changes us. It opens our minds and hearts to the other person’s reality and in that space love and kindness, the signs of God’s love, grow and maybe even dance.
God of mercy, make me merciful as you are. Send me your gracious Spirit to wonder about the lives of the people I met and let me treat them with the tenderness that Jesus has for them. I ask this in his name confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb