16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A reflection on the Gospel of Mark 6:30-34

Sister Margaret Meaney, OSB

My comments will be mercifully short. I am paraphrasing  Shakespeare and the bible.

‘The quality of mercy is not strained.’ Mercy blesses the one that gives and blesses the one that receives. Mercy ornaments the powerful more than power itself, because it is enthroned above power in the eyes of God. It is an attribute of God’s own self.

My belief is that our free will is how God created us in the Divine image. When we exhibit mercy, we are closest to the likeness of God. Mercy stems from our free will; we not only have mercy, we choose it.

Benedict advises us to “never turn away when someone needs your love”.  Love is mercy.

There was an occasion when I failed a man of the street. I was very judgmental about what I thought the money was going to be used for. He was smoking a cigarette. I declined his request. Later I realized  the cigarette was a butt off the sidewalk, and that smoking blunts hunger. I had denied this man food.

This one act causes me sorrow; it is the proxy for all my failures of love-past, present, and future. Every ignorance, every bad act and lack of love is distilled into this one event. My mistakes all dance on the head of a pin.

‘Does not the gentle rain fall on good and bad alike?’ Does not God ask ‘mercy not sacrifice’ from us?

My sorrow purifies me. May knowing my mistake also do you some good.

In this divided time, even when exhausted, we must be a vigilant presence of God’s mercy. Like Jesus when he saw the crowd on the shore, may we all be tireless when dispensing Love.


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