Info on 2011 Holy Land Pilgrimage

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May 20, 2005


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Chuck Elves

Just a thought Joe:

I've heard (I can't remember the exact quotation) that in grace God gives us what we do not deserve and in mercy He withholds that which we do deserve. Is mercy not holding back, while grace and compassion are extending. In the case of the good Samaritan he went the extra mile. By your argument he was not in a position to hurt the man but he did show compassion.

I guess my question is 'Is it unmerciful to not help someone or is it simply uncompassionate?"


Chuck - I think you rightly point out what mercy is in the last sense that I began to mention -"it is only to the guilty that mercy can be shown". That is, I think, one large sense of mercy on God's part - forgiving the guilty (like me). And I think you are right that the "other half" on God's part is extending grace.

The other sense in which I see Jesus using the word is in the context of the Good Samaritan. The sense of the term there seems (to me in my reading) to imply some kind of action, which follows upon the feeling of pity which the Samaritan had upon seeing the man in distress. (got do do a further word study, but that's my academic side coming out...) And the whole thing is set in the context of acting out love of God and love of neighbour.

So, to answer your question, I would suggest that compassion (lit= to suffer along with) is more akin to an identification with the sufferings of another, which is probably the first step in acting to do something about it, which I take to mean showing mercy. But it all falls under learning to love God and neighbour...which I'm really bad at...

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  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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