In “The Merchant of Venice”, Portia asks Shylock to show mercy. He asks, “On what compulsion, must I?”
The quality of mercy is not strain’d. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Wikipedia, on Mercy.
I’ve loved Pope Francis since the first time I saw him emerge from the balcony, asking us to pray for him. That gesture radiated humility, and became his signature. I cried with House Speaker Boehner, when he told of the profound impact a brief encounter with Pope Francis had on his life. Again, Pope Francis asked him to pray for him. Speaker Boehner resigned his position the next morning, and although it may have been in the works for some time, it was a merciful exchange; a life changing exchange.
I watched him bless sick people, and heard about his meals with the homeless. The picture of his outstretched hand clasped by a prisoner, is profound, and welcome in this weary world of separation and judgement.
These are living images of grace, and help me when I read others criticisms of his speech; the failure to speak of Ordaining women, or to spend more time talking about the Priest abuse cases.
Mercy is a powerful attribute of God. Mercy moves the hearts of human beings, sometimes sufficiently, to change a life. It’s gentle, and loving, and it obliterates everything that would tell us otherwise about ourselves.