In his post today, Jack used this quote, which is apparently from a source (book?) titled 3Minutes a Day – “What do Shakespeare, the Bible and The Rise of Skywalker have in common?” You can read Jack’s answers at his blog – Jack’s Winning Words. Spoiler alert – all three involve mercy.
One dictionary defines being merciful as “bringing relief”. Using that rather generic and all-encompassing definition, one is being merciful when they put a dollar in the Red Salvation Army Kettle at Christmas. While the definition above is pro-active in nature, mercy may also be shown by what one does not do – swerving or stopping to avoid hitting and animal in the street may be seen as an act of mercy.
All of us have multiple opportunities during any normal day to be merciful – to provide relief. Why then does so much need persist all around us? One reason may be that we have trained ourselves to not see the need, to avert our eyes when we encounter those is need, whether they be the homeless man sitting on the street corner or the co-worker whom we know is going through rough times. We look away because we “don’t want to get involved” or maybe, “I don’t have time for that right now.” How inconvenient of someone in need to impinge upon your life.
Of course, if the shoe was on your foot, instead of theirs, you might wonder how so many people could just ignore your plight and pass you by. It is easier to imagine and maybe accept the excuses that the travelers who encountered the man in Luke 10 had for passing him by. It might be harder to imagine how that man felt as they passed him by, until the Good Samaritan stopped to help. It’s really not that the others didn’t see the need. Indeed, they made a special effort to pass by on the other side of the road, so they must have seen him lying there. They didn’t want to get involved or they just didn’t have time to help.
The point is that we have as a society become more like those travelers who passed by on the other side and maybe worse. We have convinced ourselves that we don’t have time or don’t want to get involved. Maybe we have even become cynical. We may say, “I have my health care that I paid for; let them pay for their own” or maybe “ I don’t want them in my neighborhood because that may decrease my property value.” We find many ways to pass by on the other side and not show mercy- not provide any relief.
Perhaps you would react and provide relief, if only you saw the needs. It is all too easy to send school kids home for the weekend and not be concerned about the fact that they have nothing to eat until the next school day on Monday or to not think about that elderly neighbor that you so seldom see. They are all too often out of sight and out of mind. You don’t have to see them to know that the need is there. Groups like Blessings in a Backpack and Community Sharing know that they need help to make it through the weekends, so they have programs to provide healthy meals or run food pantries to provide assistance. The Meals-On-Wheels program does the same for seniors and shut-ins. You can support those programs or be an active participant in preparing or delivering those much-needed meals.
Of course you alone cannot solve the problems of homelessness or hunger in the world; but maybe you can help in your neighborhood or on your block. Those backpacks that are sent home to feed needy children over the weekend don’t just load themselves p and those meals that will be delivered to a grateful senior don’t just make themselves and then drive themselves to the homes. People just like you who decided not to pass by on the other side perform all of those tasks, and more, right in your neighborhood. Google and call Blessings in a Backpack or Meals on Wheels or any other volunteer group that you see is taking action to provide relief to those in need.
Show the mercy that is in your heart. Don’t pass by on the other side.
If you live in the Milford, Michigan area I’ll save you the effort of the Google searches –
The Huron Valley Blessings in a Backpack may be found on Facebook at – https://www.facebook.com/pg/BlessingsInaBackpackHuronValley/posts/
Livingston County and Western Oakland County Meals on Wheel serves this area and may be reached on Facebook at –