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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Mercy is Understanding

December 2: Thursday of the First Week of Advent, Year C2

Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21, 24-27

The European educational system separates at an early age those apt for university from those destined for less intellectual employment. Because they grow up apart, the “workers” and the “bourgeoisie” —including the clergy—have difficulty communicating.

Hans, the maintenance man in the French seminary where I studied, used to complain that the priest in charge of him had no “brotherly love.” I used to answer, “No, Hans, he just doesn’t understand!” Hans replied, “If he had love of neighbor, he would understand.” Hans won the argument.

Four years later, when I went back to visit, that priest was Hans’s confessor! I won the argument after all. Because the priest did have brotherly love, he came to understand. That was the fruit of mercy. Awareness of their divine relationship as brothers in Christ overcame their cultural alienation—but only because mercy was put into practice.

Jesus said, “Everyone who listens to my words and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” He also said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Those who live out the relationship that their faith tells them is there will come to experience mercy. Then we will all experience it together in the perfect peace and unity of the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

Daily Practice: See and treat everyone as a brother or sister in Christ.

Advent Prayer: Lord, show me your face in all I meet.

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