In the New Testament, Jesus reveals the mercy of God through His teachings, actions, signs and miracles. He used parables to drive home His message of mercy. We shall single out a few of them:
- 1. The Parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the Prodigal son (Luke 15: 1-32)
In this parable, Jesus reveals God’s unlimited mercy and boundless love. God is never tired of forgiving. He breaks down our rejection of Him with His compassion and mercy. In the parable of the prodigal son, the elder brother who remained in the house was angry at the way his father welcomed and forgave his younger brother after squandering his wealth in a life of debauchery in a foreign land, Jesus is our elder brother – the firstborn of the Father, the word. But unlike the older brother in the story He did not remain in his Father’s house in heaven. He is the one who went to a “far country’’, (Luke 15:13) to find the younger one i.e. fallen humanity (you and I). It is He who led him back home; it is He who procured new clothes for him and prepared a banquet for him, to which he can come in every Eucharist.
- 2. The Parable of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 10:25-37)
Jesus teaches us how to be merciful to others. Mercy must trickle down from God to man; it is remarkable that Jesus chose a character from Samaria to give first aid to an injured Jew, since between Samaritans and Jews there existed centuries of hostility with no love lost. What Jesus wanted to show is the mercy that transcends all borders and brings down all walls. It is mercy to humanity, regardless of race, religion, faith, colour, language, culture or origin. As the mercy of God knows no borders, so must the mercy of every human person reach out towards his neighbor; especially the weak, the oppressed, the marginalised, the immigrants, the internally displaced and those who live on the peripheries of society. On a deeper level, the man from Jerusalem who fell into hands of robbers is an image of fallen humanity. When we fall from grace, we fall into the hands of robbers; the sin beat us and dispossess us of the life of God in us, leaving us half-dead.
The evangelist Luke recounts what the Samaritan did: “He bound up the wounds, pouring oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him” (10:34). That Good Samaritan is Jesus, who comes to our aid, lifts us up and mounts us on His shoulders; paying the debt He did not owe, because we couldn’t pay the debt we owed. The Inn is the Church that cares for us spiritually, soothing our pains with the oil of the sick and nourishing us with the Eucharist. Little wonder that Pope Francis expresses his desire that the Church must be a place of mercy where everyone feels welcomed, loved and forgiven.
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos
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