Daily reading: 17 January
'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.'
Something to read
Jesus said: ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much back again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.'’
Luke 6:32-36, New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
In 'Les Miserables', the novel and musical, the would-be hero is released from prison into an unforgiving world. A bishop invites the ex-prisoner Jean into his home, feeds him and gives him a bed for the night.
Jean repays the bishop’s generosity by sneaking out in the early hours having stolen some silverware. However, when Jean is arrested the bishop quietly forgives him by telling the authorities that the silverware was a gift.
Jesus is asking us to be like that bishop. Jesus is asking us to put aside our natural instinct to avenge wrongdoing, and instead show goodness and mercy towards everyone: friend and foe alike. As Jesus is quoted elsewhere (Matthew 5:45): ‘your Father in heaven… makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.'
Something to do
When reading the newspaper or watching the news, make a real attempt to be non-judgemental about those charged with crimes. And make a real effort to avoid being drawn into conversations of others who would condemn the prisoner at the bar.
Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.
Help me to be merciful to others
just as you have shown mercy to me.
Today’s contributor is Keith Cakebread, a minister with the United Reformed Church.