Seeing – being moved – getting into action
It all begins with seeing: seeing who the other is, in his or her dignity and uniqueness. Paying attention to the other and opening us towards that other person. That means that we are moved by the other, that we allow the other to enter into our heart. That is already the second step. The other person truly becomes aware of it when we finally get into action, when we make this other person our neighbour and fellow-human.
Hence, practising mercy is not just a charitable activity, it is the fruit of being deeply moved: moved in a fundamental layer of our life. Mercy is life-giving and stimulates what is good. Mercy is opening and challenging, it makes the relationship between people cordial, loyal, hospitable and respectful.
Mercy also requires cooperation. We have to commit ourselves with all we have and are, in order to make mercy become a reality… And we will discover ultimately that this is not enough. We do need others to practise mercy structurally and to be strengthened in our personal attitude.
Mercy is an attitude towards life which needs practise daily. By silence, reflection, encounters and personal exchange. By caring, by giving and receiving, by simply doing something. An attitude of mercy also implies being merciful towards ourselves.
We cannot speak about mercy without referring to Jesus, who shows us how we could be merciful and help bring along Gods Kingdom of peace and justice. The Gospel about the Good Samaritan is a well-known illustration of the questions: who is your neighbour? And how far do we have to go in ‘being moved’? The Gospel of Matthew 25 offers a list of merciful deeds, which in an old tradition of the Church has been specified as fourteen works of mercy. Through these acts of mercy we can assist people who have lost their personal and human dignity: