The Quality of Mercy

Posted by Roberta Grimes • June 13, 2020 • 42 Comments
Human Nature, The Teachings of Jesus

The quality of mercy is not strained;
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.
       – William Shakespeare (1564-1616) from The Merchant of Venice (1605)

As a teenager I memorized the entire “quality of mercy” speech from The Merchant of Venice. Portia’s plea to a bitter man for mercy is one of the most significant pieces of literature ever written, and I quote about half of it here because it explains the value of mercy better than I ever could. Please read this week’s header and footer together. Then let’s look at how showing mercy is urged upon us in the Gospel teachings of Jesus, and let’s also look at some of the ways in which mercy is central to making easier and more joyous the course of our lives on earth.

Jesus makes mercy one of the bases for His central teachings on love and forgiveness. Indeed, mercy is so much a primary grounding of our ability to grow spiritually that it is not an exaggeration to say that unless we learn to practice mercy, we will find it much harder to grow spiritually. Here are the primary areas of the Lord’s Gospel teachings on mercy:

  • Mercy is a gift to the receiver that redounds to the giver. Portia says, “It is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (MT 5:7).
  • Mercy is an important grounding that enables us to live in harmony with others. Portia’s way of putting this is to say of mercy, “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.” Jesus illustrates His wish that we be merciful with His parable of the Good Samaritan. He ends it by saying, Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”His listener says, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus says, “Go and do the same” (LK 10:36-38). Jesus makes a lack of mercy shown by religious leaders reason enough for Him to condemn them. He says, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (MT 23:23).
  • Mercy is a core characteristic of the Godhead. As Portia says, “It is an attribute to God himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice.” And Jesus tells a man from whom He has cast out demons, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you” (MK 5:19).
  • Mercy lies at the heart of justice. Portia says, “’T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.” And Jesus tells a parable about a slave whose master forgives his debt because the slave begs for mercy. The forgiven slave then demands that his fellow slave repay a debt to him. The outraged master says, ‘”You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave?” The master punishes the miscreant, and Jesus adds, My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart” (MT 18:32-35).

So, what does the word “mercy” mean, anyway? The best definition for our purposes seems to becompassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” Until recently, showing mercy to others seemed to me to be a nicety, a classier way to deal with people, an aid to greasing the wheels of life. I thought it had to be used selectively. If you keep letting people do bad things to you without any consequence to them, don’t you risk becoming a doormat? It astonishes me now to realize how long I held the view that our mercy must be limited! I never until recently thought about the fact that mercy is the first cousin to forgiveness. Indeed, it may be reasonable to say that unless you make a habit of being merciful, you cannot ever really learn to forgive.

But it also is essential to bear in mind the fact that even though they come from similar mindsets and are similar in effect, mercy and forgiveness are not the same! Jesus urges us to practice mercy in our daily lives, as is noted in the Gospel quotations above. He wants us to be merciful, but He commands that we forgiveHe tells us that forgiveness is essential to our obeying God’s primary command, which is that we love universally and without reservation.

We cannot state God’s Law of Love often enough! When someone asks Jesus what is the greatest commandment, He doesn’t name any of the Ten Commandments. Instead He says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (MT 22:37-40). And the Lord makes it abundantly clear that in order to love our fellow man, we must forgive completely every time and no matter what is done to us. We must not even resist pure evil! Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (MT 5:38-40). And when Peter asks Him whether we really have to keep forgiving the same awful things done by the same awful people as many as seven times in a row, Jesus says, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (MT 18:21-23).

This is radical stuff! And Jesus insists on it. His teachings suggest that unless we learn to forgive to this extreme extent, we cannot learn to love in the transformative way that God’s Law insists we must love.

Forgiveness is a primary command from God, while mercy is meant to soften our hearts. Perhaps it is Spiritual Growth 101. Establishing a habit of mercy seems to prime our minds and make easier our development of such a radical forgiveness practice that learning prevenient forgiveness is easier. Even though it is not commanded of us, we find that mercy, like gratitude and empathy, can assist us in re-setting our minds for more rapid spiritual growth to come.

Mercy is easier to theorize about than it can be to put into use. Unlike practicing prevenient forgiveness, which soon becomes automatic, being merciful requires that before we act in any situation, we must first pause and think in a complex way about the people involved and the likeliest outcomes of whatever we might decide to do. Here are three quick examples:

  • Building mercy into our daily lives. I have a wealthy friend living in a rural area who was often making small emergency loans that some of the borrowers could not repay. This could lead to awkward estrangements from some who were embarrassed about their outstanding loans, so she has instituted a new policy. Now she refuses to lend, but if someone needs money she often makes an outright gift. She then adds, “If you find someone who needs your help, please offer your help.” Try to pay it forward. She keeps no records and she never asks, but now people often tell her about this or that gift of time or talent they have made with her in mind. Now she no longer risks losing friends over what to her are minor sums, and many more people are being helped!
  • Showing mercy in deeply negative situations. Two weeks ago, one of the most beloved bookstores in the United States burned down. Not far away, a landmark business that employed fifty people also burned. Target, CVS, Walgreen’s, and Wal-Mart stores burned, as did most local grocery stores. Reportedly, the proprietors of most of those businesses have no plans to rebuild. If the rioters had given some thought to the people who lived in the neighborhoods they were burning, surely they would have shown some mercy toward the businesses at the core of their community life!
  • Working for general public mercy. The United States holds less than 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population. The incarceration rate for American blacks is seven times the rate for whites, even though most of those imprisoned are not a danger to society. One in 87 working-age white men is in prison, vs. one in twelve African-American men. Among 20- to 34-year-old black men who have not completed high school, more are in prison than are employed (37% in prison vs. 26% employed). More than 97% of these prisoners did not have a trial before they were sentenced to prison. Nearly all will lose their civil rights for life. As a result of this situation, many black children grow up fatherless; and thanks to what is called “the school-to-prison pipeline,” a lot of those children will follow their fathers into prison. This complex problem can be solved if enough of us will work together and have mercy on a long-suffering community whose members need our help if they are ever to prosper.

Exercising creative daily mercy in situations large and small is a simple way for us to begin to lighten ourselves spiritually. And for us to show mercy tends to make all of those around us more merciful, too. So not only does showing mercy become a habit that helps us work toward learning prevenient forgiveness, but also in countless ways it lightens the burden of negativity on us all.

Next week let’s look at how we might extend some creative community mercy and start to solve America’s most intractable problem….

‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
           – William Shakespeare (1564-1616) from The Merchant of Venice (1605)


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Roberta Grimes
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42 thoughts on “The Quality of Mercy

  1. Dear Roberta, thank you for this insightful discussion of mercy. The last comment I made on your previous blog entry is, I think, relevant this week too. My spirit guide continually reminds me that I am working to understand Patience. I think Patience and Mercy are entangled.

    1. Dear Mike, I think that patience is entangled with many of the concepts we have been talking about here. It is in the very nature of being in service to Spirit that no matter how hard we work and no matter how desperately we want our projects to succeed, the plain fact is that we cannot know the reasons for a lot of things, nor the timing. We must let go of all our expectations, be patient, and trust in the wisdom of the Godhead. It is very humbling!

      1. Thanks! Don’t I know it! The sort of Patience my beloved guide stresses with me is exactly the kind of Cosmic Patience you allude to. Ultimately the Plan belongs to God. We cannot forget that.

  2. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Roberta for being an extraordinary teacher! I look forward to Sunday breakfast with you and learning the answers to many of life’s perplexing questions.
    As a brown-skinned minority, I support those who are at the end of their ropes and are demanding change but of course, don’t agree with looting and destruction that manifests from deep frustration, pain and anger. In this “white man’s” world, the oppressed, the subjugated, and victimized are demanding more understanding, compassion, respect, and love in this country (and elsewhere) but unfortunately don’t know how else to get peoples’ attention. The United States began in violence and continues in violence; however, we must forgive and show mercy for those who colonized and established erroneous ideas of hate and discrimination that have survived and perpetuated for centuries- for to feel and think otherwise is going into the opposite realm of Love. Mercy and forgiveness internalized and practiced by everyone today is the only way to heal ourselves and heal the world.
    I am ecstatic that major changes are afoot this year as Mother Earth ascends to a higher vibration and by learning how to increase our frequency from inspired teachers like you, we are blessed to go along with her.

    1. Oh dear Kitty, it wasn’t just the United States that began in violence! It was born in a desperately violent time, and even then its brilliant Founders conceived and passed on to us a system of government without parallel in the world, and one that still after more than two centuries and despite all the efforts of evil-minded people to topple it remains the last, best hope of humankind. Were it not for our Constitutional protections, we would have no hope for fixing all that is wrong; but they give us a solid place on which to stand. With the lever of innate human freedom and equality finally objectively applied, at last we are going to transform the world!

      We’ll be talking about this over the next three weeks. Stay tuned….

  3. Dear Roberta,
    Please let me know where I can find the information supporting that 97% of blacks are imprisoned without a trial. I can’t believe this exists in America, and out of all the hate and blame BLM is promoting, I have not heard them argue this point; if it’s true, they should. I’m trying to understand the plight of black people, but need to know the reality of it, not just hear about isolated incidents that are promoted as representative of the whole. Without the facts this is nothing but the old false argument that air travel is unsafe because I have seen news stories of X number of plane crashes. There was one statistic pointed out to me that blacks in one particular area are arrested 5 times more than whites. This was their proof of discrimination. But if 25 black men are arrested for looting, and 5 whites are arrested for looting, then in this example blacks were appropriately arrested 5 times more than blacks. How is that racist? The BLM group also discredits their very cause by not even acknowledging, let alone addressing, black on black violence which is where the most crime against blacks happen. Furthermore, a majority of the protests are in defense of the criminal element of the black community, that is itself terrorizing and destroying the black community. Why is nobody protesting for the peace and protection of the innocent black people that are victimized by the black criminals? I’m reading an eye-opening book by Jason Riley called Please Stop Helping Us, and he makes his arguments based on facts and statistics. Speaking about black education, he discusses a high school in an affluent area of Shaker Heights, Ohio with both black and white families. In the well-equipped schools, blacks preform more poorly than whites. A professor from Berkeley was brought in to study it, and found that black culture was most responsible. Black girls thought it was cute to be dumb, and blacks who got good grades, studied, or did anything any reasonable person would call responsible, they were made fun of for “acting white”. You yourself describe how the group, supposedly trying to demand better treatment for themselves, destroyed stores which then denied a service to members of that community. What? I want all people to be to be given an equal opportunity, and be able to live a happy and fulfilling life as an American and indeed worldwide. I know that the majority of people share this idea. But there are hateful people who want to believe everyone is against them, and all these people against them are the cause of ALL of their problems, with taking NO responsibility for their own actions. In a recent “dialogue” with a BLM member (they don’t have dialogue just demands) I just gave in and gave him my coat and my other cheek. I did say that if he wanted to hate and blame someone, he was free to hate and blame me, but that sadly it would destroy him and have little impact on me. I also wished him luck on his fight and prayed that he chose one of love and uniting humanity. He had an explosive response that spat on me for “praying” for him, and was sad that I was not affected by his hate and blame. Roberta, seriously, how can any improvement come when the ones claiming they are victims only attack, take no personal responsibility, blame and accuse, and have demands like kill or remove all the police and white people. Obviously, I, like so many other white people, care and want to help, but how do you help when they only want to hate and divide?

    1. Hi Jason, Roberta co/wrote “The Fun of Living Together,” which I highly recommend. This isn’t a shameless plug. It’s an excellent historical perspective and proposal that is relevant right now especially.

    2. Oh my dear Jason, our criminal justice system is even worse than you can imagine. It isn’t only more than 97% of black federal prisoners who have been coerced into pleading guilty without a Constitutionally-prescribed jury trial, but it is 97% of all federal prisoners of every skin-shade! And the state criminal justice systems are not far behind, at 94% sentenced without a trial. If a prosecutor focuses on you (and most of them are white and male), it doesn’t matter who you are: it is likely that you will plead guilty to something and spend time behind bars. (Incidentally, it has been estimated that as many as twenty percent of these convicts are innocent of the crimes to which they have pled guilty. Not that it seems to matter.)

      How does this work? Simple. The prosecutors charge you with something of which you may or may not be guilty, and then they do two things:

      1) They tell you that if you plead guilty, you will get a reduced sentence. If you plead innocent and insist on a trial, they will throw the book at you. The cost of your defense will be prohibitive, and if you are convicted you will get the maximum sentence. Hmmm… which shall it be? Three years in prison and you don’t bankrupt your family with lawyers’ fees? Or else you risk spending thirty years in prison, and you risk leaving your family reduced to begging on the street? What kind of a choice is that?

      2) If you still won’t plead guilty, they threaten to charge your family members, employees, or others you care about with various crimes. This is what finally got Michael Flynn to plead guilty to lying, when in fact he didn’t lie: they threatened to charge his son.

      Being rich doesn’t help. I know of wealthy people who pled guilty to white-collar crimes that they didn’t actually commit, and they went to prison because otherwise their employees would have been charged.

      This is Banana Republic stuff! But it happens every day in the United States of America. This is why we have five times the prison population that would be proportionate to our overall population, and it is why one in three black men goes to prison at some point in his life. This travesty should be front-page stories in every newspaper and web site in the United States! Instead, apparently nobody cares.

      Cry, the Beloved Country.

      As for the rest, dear Jason, there seem to be some surprisingly straightforward reasons why we still have a racial mess, and they have nothing to do with institutional or individual racism (neither of which really exists anymore). We can indeed fix it all and at last come together in love as one unified country! We’ll be talking about the problems and their solutions over the next three weeks.

    3. Hello. Another Jason is now here. Looks like I will have to start calling myself Jason W. For those keeping track, I am the health care worker who takes x-rays of Covid-19 patients, asked about Lucid Dreaming and Astral Travel as ways to break through the wall of amnesia, and in response to a note about The Fall, revealed that I had researched a bit about the Dark Side in an attempt to write a decent Renfield book.

  4. Thank you all. I am glad l read every word of Roberta’s blog and the comments that followed. Jason took the time to share several excellent points and gave me a better perspective. l look forward to Roberta’s response. I am sad everyday about black on black crime, especially for the mothers in Chicago whose suffering never ends.

    1. Dear Mary Anne, all of us are sad about the plight of our dear black brothers and sisters! After four hundred years, it’s time to finally fix our racial problems forevermore. We’ll begin to talk about that next week….

      1. I would never deny that there is racial prejudice associated with the justice system, but I think an even bigger factor is lack of money. Here is an example:
        A book I read about 10 years ago was the true story of a 20 year old black man who was falsely accused of murdering a clerk in a dry cleaners and spent 8 years in prison. He had a life sentence, but a law clerk looking for experience reviewed his case and saw many flaws. He was convicted for three reasons: 1) He was seen running away from the vicinity of the dry cleaners. (Yes, he was running because he worked 3 blocks away and was going to be late for work if he didn’t hurry) 2) He mentioned at work that there was a “cute looking new girl at the dry cleaners” (This was true – she only had the job for 2 weeks and he had taken his suit there to be cleaned because he was going to the wedding of his best friend). 3) On investigation of the crime scene, two pubic hairs were found and analysis said they came from someone of the Negro race. (This is true also, as the black girl who used to work there often changed her clothes in the back room where they found the pubic hairs). They made a big deal out of him having a prior arrest record, but it was only for shoplifting! Had it not been for the law clerk trying to gain experience, he would still be incarcrated, as he had a life sentence. This was more due to lack of money than anything else, as if he had enough money, he could have hired an experienced trial/criminal lawyer who would have easily explained this circumstantial evidence and left reasonable doubt. A real estate salesman who worked across the street from the dry cleaning business was later convicted of the crime. Obviously, there is more to this story, but the main culprit here is clearly the lack of money. If he was rich, it wouldn’t have mattered whether he was black or white but, of course, being black AND without financial backup is usually a one-way ticket to prison.

        1. Dear Lola, we could quibble about which is more of a problem, the lack of money enough to go to trial or the determination of prosecutors to get defendants to plea-bargain, but attorneys are so expensive now that for people of every skin shade both are equally insuperable difficulties. Very few Americans are wealthy enough to comfortably pay for sufficient legal help to take them through a murder trial.

          1. I agree. A white, rich American has little to fear when facing a trial. The example I gave is not the only one. Unfortunately, there are many innocent victims rotting in prison due to plea bargains and horrible legal representation. This should not be the case. We are dealing with people’s lives here.

  5. Dear Roberta,
    Thank you for your very kind an well reasoned response! It has given me valuable information to help me work through this.
    I truly am working toward becoming a more loving person. It’s been ages since I honked my horn. 🙂
    Per Mike’s recommendation, The Fun of Living Together will be my next read.
    Again, thank you so much Roberta for all you do!

    1. Dear Jason, it’s lovely to see you engaging with all this information. Whatever our individual questions might be, there really are good answers now! And I agree that feeling less need to honk at people is a new beginning… it certainly was for me 😉

  6. Dear Roberta, Thanks ever so much for your guidance. Yes, I accept I need to work on myself in order to serve Jesus. The trouble is I have always been accused of selfishness (now called narcissistic). So, it is rare for me actually to look after myself. To be fair, I think what I was doing was building up my calling as a doctor.

    After my brain operation (to remove a large clot) in 2013, I was sure I had been given another opportunity to do my job as a doctor better. Seemingly without knowing, I shifted to an attitude of Mercy, which was initially towards my (elderly) patients and their carers. Now this attitude is extending to my work mates and eventually, towards me! So, your blog this week is very pertinent.

    I think of mercy as distinct from the rather intellectual (and virtue signalling) compassion and empathy. Mercy strikes me as a kinetic thing; directed energy filling the whole environment, a balm to giver, receiver and audience. I agree it is linked with patience.

    1. Everyone, Prasanna sent me a lovely email on Sunday with her thoughts about mercy, and I asked her please to post them here. My dear friend, thank you for sharing this comment! I love your saying how you saw becoming more merciful as a way to make a better beginning after your lifesaving surgery, and especially how your showing greater mercy to your patience helped you turn mercy into your universal habit. I agree that neither compassion nor empathy is the same as mercy, since for one thing mercy is in the end really less about the person you are helping and more about your own internal softening and increased sense of kindness toward everyone. Lovely!

  7. Hi Roberta,
    Thanks again for a great article. Incidentally, I named my childhood cat Portia after the merchant of Venice character.
    I just read an article from a prominent Christian leader in response to the recent Supreme Court Ruling on civil rights for the LGBTQ community. He sees it as a dark day and I couldn’t help but think, agree with the LGBTQ community or not, why wouldn’t you have mercy on them when it comes to equal rights in jobs and housing? How can a proclaimed Christian be in favor of discrimination? The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 which was not an entirely split vote. It makes me realize how far we have to go, when mainstream Christians try to be the judge and jury when all they were instructed to do was love and forgive. Have a great day, and thanks for your continuing inspiration to be better.

    1. Dear Timothy, as someone who was one of the first feminists – back then, all we wanted was equal rights! – I can see that the LGBTQ situation is a nuanced one. It is a plain fact that men’s bodies are stronger and faster, no matter what gender their minds think they are, so I am not cool with transgender people who are born male participating in physical contests as females. I am also not okay with them being housed with free access to women who are strangers to them, in any situation. I am sympathetic to lesbians, who feel that they fought hard to finally achieve some equality, only to see biological males step in and claim the equal rights they fought so hard to gain. I am also emphatically not okay with encouraging minors to transition to the opposite gender, when more than 90% will be happy to resume their biological gender once their hormones kick in. Let’s give them a chance to live what the world will see as a normal life until they grow up! Then if at the age of 25 or so they still want to transition, that’s fine and God bless them.

      Dear Timothy, I agree that religion-based judgments of these people are emphatically wrong and are not consistent with the teachings of Jesus. But in having mercy on one person, we cannot ignore the conflicting needs of those who might feel that their rights are now being restricted!

      1. Roberta,
        Yes, I agree there are nuances of equality that infringe on equality for others, specifically in female vs. male competitions. I recognize there are no solutions for every wicked problem that our country faces. As evidenced in our current race relations quandary, we will never be able to solve every problem with new laws or amendments, or removing all references to past racism. Perhaps that is where we must pull together all our of love, empathy and forgiveness to find mercy in our own lives. In order to show mercy, we have to be in a place of power over another. This can be as subtle as Effrem’s story below, and perhaps the subtle shows of mercy have the most positive impact in our relationships with others.

        1. Dear Timothy, I think that we can – and indeed we must! – untangle the racial problems that now cause so many Americans so much pain. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on next week’s offering….

  8. Dearest Roberta,
    Thank you for your beautiful treatment of mercy in this week’s blog. I can see why Thomas and your good self have chosen this ageless quality to share with us. Mercy is needed for our spiritual progress, and it enriches us deeply it seems.

    Yet it is a quality that is an active one, perhaps more than a potential one. You do have to weigh up an action, as you say Roberta. Sometimes you may need to weigh up a non action too. For instance you have to actively decide not to inflict a reprisal on someone who has wronged you, when you have gained the advantage to do so. (It’s ironic that the ‘act’ of mercy is ‘not to act’ by refusing to deliver a reprisal.)

    And mercy can be shown by us everyday folk in everyday situations, not just by the justice system or those in power. An example can be as simple as this one:

    There was one guy I know who was verbally redressed by the register manager at our local supermarket. He had sought to be served at the wrong checkout. The manager berated him in a way that left him feeling shamed in front of others in the store. Since the issue was concerning a technicality, the guy just asked for a better, more polite tone from the manager and walked away. He felt the humiliation of all eyes on him as he left.

    Not such a big deal, right? Yet it rankled for some time and he thought of delivering a formal complaint about staff rudeness, but decided to let it slide. After all, he could use the auto checkouts next time…

    After a few weeks he found himself back at the supermarket facing a checkout clerk, as all the auto checkouts were in use. This guy had to face a real person again. As fortune would have it, his clerk was the register manager who had berated him some weeks before. She was filling in for a checkout staff member who was absent that day. He looked at her. She glanced at him; recognition was instant.

    Then the register manager made a rather large mistake in her totalization. The guy picked up the incorrect receipt and looked at it, seeing the glaring error at once. A cutting, retaliatory response flashed through his mind. Should he but raise his voice a little everyone nearby could hear of the manager’s obvious mistake. For a moment, he weighed his response.

    The he smiled and in the politest manner possible, he whispered the error to the manager/clerk. She gasped, reddened and fumbled with the correct change, spluttering apologies aplenty. The guy said softly, ‘That’s okay. Mistakes happen to all of us,’ and simply left the store.

    Not only was the manager friendly to him ever after, but she went out of her way to help him at every turn. She would even open up new checkouts so that customers would get quicker service if he was in line. The guy realized after some reflection, that she genuinely liked who he was.

    I wonder Roberta, can mercy make a friend of an adversary? Can it soften flinty hardness and replace scorn with gentle caring? Can the quality of mercy spread, quietly and irrevocably as greening grass after rain ?

    1. Dear Efrem, thank you for sharing such a lovely story! I think it perfectly illustrates the pointlessness of beating down and shaming people – even though you can do it, that doesn’t mean there is any value in doing it! – and the great wisdom and value of showing mercy in all situations. Yes, mercy can make a friend of an adversary and replace scorn with caring. It also is the only way for any nation to ever fix its worst social problems, as I will try to demonstrate over the next few weeks. Greening grass after rain? Oh yes, indeed!

  9. Hello again.
    After reading this article, especially the part about “Building mercy into our daily lives” I forgave a debt and renegotiated an ongoing money transaction in a way that I think will be better for both of us.
    It looks like a practical use of mercy would be in the forgiveness of debt, as well as the idea of “Pay it Forward”. I am not much of a Biblical scholar, but didn’t the Israelites have a year of Jubilee, where debts were forgiven, and slaves were set free?

    A note not related to your most recent post: I have been noticing the increase in Covid-19 cases in Alabama and Arizona, and now an increased number of cases in Texas, which I think is where you live. I don’t know the policy of mask wearing where you are, but can I suggest you wear one when you go out, and encourage your friends to do so as well? You can say you are doing things the “Japanese way” referencing a New York Times article noting that even though Japan is not doing so much testing and sometimes their social distancing is not the best, they are doing a good job keeping infection rates down, and it looks like it might be due to their mask wearing policy.

    A question: does part of what you are teaching have to do with modifications in external reality, such as Law of Attraction, Magick, or Power of Prayer? I ask because if I go by the 60,000/year death rate from the flu that you told me about, we have just about reached the 2x flu amount of deaths from Covid-19. If projections are correct about having 200,000 deaths by October 1st that will be a 3x flu amount of deaths. I really don’t want to see that many deaths. I will check to see what tools I have that might help, but any tools you or Thomas might have to lessen the death toll would be a help.

    1. Oh dear Jason W., it is very sweet of you to worry about our health here in Texas! I do carry a mask, but seldom wear it. And I seldom see one worn. For all practical purposes, this state is open now and we all are back to dining out and shopping. I don’t even know anyone here who has caught the germ, so it’s hard to worry much about it, but I’ll try to be careful – thank you for this reminder!

      And as for the Covid deaths so far, more than forty percent nationwide have been in nursing homes, and about 25% of those were in New York alone because that state inexplicably chose to pack Covid patients into nursing homes. That was a huge un-forced error. In fact, as we get our treatment act together this disease is turning out to have a death rate of about one-half of one percent, which is less than the usual seasonal flu.

      And yes, ancient Israel practiced years of Jubilee, typically once every 49 years, that included debt-forgiveness and the freeing of slaves. It’s probably not a practical idea in modern times, but it’s a good idea in principle and as part of our earthly learning to give people the periodic chance to have a fresh start.

      Finally, the Law of Attraction and other such principles are based in the fact that our individual minds are quite powerful and therefore focused thought can be used to help to manifest our wishes. The principles that we talk about here are not based in the Law of Attraction, but rather the notion that such a law exists derives from a fundamental fact about reality – the fact that our minds are all part of one powerful mind – that has only lately been discovered!

      1. Hello again.
        I read your note just before I left for work. Not a busy day today, only had to gown up three times today for Covid-19 patients. The last one was interesting, she knew five people in her extended family who had caught the virus, and it affected each of them in different ways.
        With my free time I was able to delve into the difference between case fatality rate and infection fatality rate. I learned something today. The numbers fluctuate based on age, symptoms, etc but the overall infection fatality rate is lower than I thought: 0.5-0.6%. But, all those same sources give an infection fatality rate for the seasonal flu at 0.1%. So, I wondered who it was that was stating the death rate was less than that of the seasonal flu. I decided to dive into who it was saying that, and I learned a second thing: that is a political statement, not a medical one.
        Oh, when I asked about methods of Law of Attraction, I was thinking back to a blog post you did a little while ago, where you were quite hard on yourself because of the deaths of the children in Afghanistan in the terrorist attack. I was hoping if we could find some practical way to “raise our vibration” and lessen Covid-19 deaths that could then be used to try to prevent another Afghanistan terrorist situation involving children.

  10. Hi Roberta. This week’s topic has been a little tricky to categorize in comparison to grace, empathy, compassion, etc. I feel like maybe you’re starting to move us a tad beyond grammar school now. 😁 I see mercy as a form of selfless giving – not needing to be right, or to one up someone, or come out ahead in some way – but moving beyond self and thinking more about the good of the whole. Jesus’ commandment to love others as oneself can also include to see your own errors in the errors of others – “Let he who is without sin ….” Grace comes from above, but mercy wells up from us. If we look at life as spiritual progression and evolution, then repentance (transforming one’s mind) and redemption come into play. We are not necessarily who we where ten years ago, and even if we were as sinless as Job in this life, God knows what we might have done in a past life. There is an active principle here, as stated above, where we need to stay in the moment, and focused on the highest good. If you can open up your heart to be filled with God’s love and light, the shadows disappear, and it can see the fellow soul with fresh eyes in every instant, as what they have become, not be stuck in the past or in fear of the future.

    1. Dear Scott, you’re right in saying that mercy is more sophisticated than gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, and love. All of these concepts are in essence responses that we learn to employ in all instances, without discrimination; while mercy is by its nature selective. It is a process that we actively choose to use in each instance where we think based on all the circumstances that it is appropriate. Mercy is always active! Even if its result is forbearance from doing something, it is an active choice with active results. And as you will see next week, it can be especially powerful when we use it in the public sphere to attack and solve the most intractable problems.

      1. Thanks Roberta. One bit I might add, upon reflection, is that as we strive to grow and evolve, we should try and see not only where others have grown in the present, but their potential to grow in the future, and that act of mercy might be what they need to spur them on. At a soul level we are all here to help each other. Growth leads to service to others, and service leads to more growth, like an upward spiral.

        1. Hey Scott,
          Your idea of a growth spiral is a great one. So is the point about attempting to see another’s growth potential and doing something to help actualize it.

          It would be excellent to become aware of these things and do exactly what you suggest. Should we all give service to others and deliver acts of mercy, we would grow significantly and speedily. Even a group of us doing this now would spark a powerful flow on effect.

          Since we are discovering that our minds are indeed powerful, then why not try it?

          1. Dear Efrem, as we will say next week, since our planet’s consciousness vibration has fallen as low as it has, there is a lot of remedial work to be done, and creative mercy is ideally suited to that. For us to look at what has gone so wrong, and consider deeply why that has happened, and repair and redo what has gone wrong in each nation’s chequered past will go a long way toward truly helping all those who have been harmed to heal, and then to grow as much as they possibly can!

          2. Thanks Efrem. It is of course easier said than done, but trying to maintain an attitude of service (of which mercy is an important part), seeing others as self, and thinking of the bigger picture and what serves the highest good, or the wholeness, is something I’m trying hard to work on. This crazy world is always knocking me out of that mentality, but I keep going back to my mantras. Roberta’s prevenient forgiveness mantra is really the key one, I think. I had a similar one of my own that I had evolved, but hers is so much better. It helps to create a baseline that I’m finding easier and easier to maintain. And your right, the more people doing this sort of thing as a practice, the more it ripples out to change the world. This sort of positive energy seems to have a real multiplier effect. It is an important spiritual practice.

  11. Dearest Roberta,
    I look forward to Sunday’s blog post with the utmost alacrity! To repair and heal what has gone wrong in each nation’s ‘chequered past’ is a tremendous topic.

    Actually, I’d like to ask a question of your good self and our esteemed Thomas. Since we are talking of worldly problems and finding solutions to them, there is one issue I’d like to broach, for your consideration:

    This has been an unusual year. Australia too faces Covid-19 and its manifold effects. A few months ago, our government helped to launch the international effort to find out how the Coronavirus was handled by the Chinese authorities, especially its appearance in Wuhan, and in its early spread through China and overseas. There are questions that need to be answered.

    The Government of China did not look upon Australia’s call for an international inquiry favorably, to say the least. China has since proceeded to employ diplomatic, economic and social media measures to disadvantage Australia. Being our biggest trading partner, China’s measures (including suspected cyber attacks currently underway) will have significant tangible effects on our nation.

    Australia is a staunch ally of the USA and it will never be moved from this stance. Interestingly, the Chinese Government’s own rhetoric reveals deep resentment that Australia will not be coaxed away from this allegiance, no matter what financial incentives have been offered over the last four decades.

    So Roberta, my question is: In a world where ambitious dictatorships will increasingly attempt to exert influence upon long standing democracies, what can be done to redress these influences? How do we solve the problem of totalitarian states that wish to undermine the freedom of humanity?

    Please know that I don’t expect an answer now, or at any particular time; I’m just putting this question out there as it’s burning a hole in my mind. 🙂😉

    1. Dear Efrem, I think that what both of our nations are learning is that we cannot trust totalitarian states at all. They do not and cannot have any interests but the survival of their leadership cadres, so there never can be anything at all reciprocal about any relationships we might have with them! Where they have been our trading partners, we have given them a potential weapon that they can use against us, so we must with haste replace every source of necessary goods and services now located in any totalitarian country. It’s a hard lesson to have to learn, and getting ourselves free from these slave-state leaders will be hard, but we must do it. And soon! Our alternative is for the citizens of our respective countries to surrender their core freedoms to the whims of the dictators, and I think all of us would find that notion to be intolerable.

      1. I agree completely. In Australia the process of trade and diplomatic disengagement with regimes of enslavement has begun. We have other major trade partners including, of course, the USA. Australia is in the process of signing a free trade agreement with the UK for instance. Our people too, are desirous of growing our connections to democracies with renewed vigor. Australia does not have all her eggs in the one basket. And considering the different ways national economies are structured, certain regimes cause themselves much damage by risking the loss of Australia’s quality natural resources, abundant produce and guaranteed supply at relatively modest transportation costs.

        Roberta, this is one lasting change to come from this Covid time, that was not anticipated Down Under.

        This is (as you have said in prior blogs) a great time to sweep away old processes to allow positive restructuring and improvement. There are good things to come and real reasons to be hopeful.

        I will continue to wish and pray that the good and powerless citizens of slave regimes (be they called ‘communist’ or anything else) will one day soon become democracies. Then all the many millions whose voices are silenced by their dictators will be able to speak aloud and be free to choose their own destinies. ❣️🌄🌅

  12. One of the childhood memories that stuck with me occurred when my maternal grandmother who had a butter and egg business was asked by one of her customers for a $50 loan, a goodly sum in the 50’s. She thought it was a loan, but it was never repaid. My grandmother was merciful, maybe, in that she never took any legal action, but did mention several times how distasteful the whole affair was. I was only about 10 at the time, but I could tell that the affair was eating her up inside. Either mercy was not softening her heart, or her lack of action could not be called mercy.

    I think situations like this happen often,



    1. Dear Cookie, I don’t think that mercy softens a heart, but rather mercy comes from a heart already softened. There are reasons other than mercy why your grandmother didn’t take action against her customer, and one or more of those might have been prominent in her mind. Perhaps she was worried that the news that she had sued a customer, for example, might damage her business; or perhaps she felt that she couldn’t navigate small claims court and the cost of a lawyer couldn’t be justified; or perhaps she knew this person couldn’t pay her back. Perhaps she made the loan against her better judgment, and her annoyance was mostly at herself for having made the loan. It really is hard to know what she was thinking. But I do agree that things like this happen often, and it is likely that it is the lender’s irritation rather than anything about the borrower that is more spiritually damaging. Which is why the Lord says that if we lend, we should not expect to be repaid!

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