`Blessed are the merciful'

ONE of the exciting features of Bible study is that the Scriptures constantly offer new meaning and inspiration. I had a good example of this recently as I began to reread Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, given in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus taught, ``Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.'' 1 A little research indicated that the word translated ``merciful'' can also be translated ``compassionate.'' Considering this, I couldn't help recalling how often the Bible tells us that Jesus felt compassion, and what followed his compassion stood out to me. A leper sought Jesus out and asked the Master to make him clean. Jesus, moved with compassion, touched him, and healed him of his leprosy. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that when a multitude followed Jesus, he was moved with compassion and healed all who were sick. Then he fed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes. A widow, walking in a funeral procession for her only son, found her grief turned into joy when Jesus, moved with compassion, brought her son back to life. Two blind men regained their sight, because, as the Bible records, the Master had compassion on them and healed them. Recently we've seen evidence of how the heart can be stirred when presented with evidence of suffering. Consider the world's response to pictures of the victims of famine in Africa. Certainly, this merciful response is fully in accord with our Master's teaching. Such help is essential. Yet Jesus' own works go deeper. Isn't the mercy Jesus expressed based on an understanding that we are not, in truth, dependent on others but on the ever-present power and care of God? This understanding of the goodness of God and His unlimited ability to care for His creation is what Jesus had, and was the basis of all his works. It didn't cause him to ignore the problems of others, but it gave him spiritual authority to relieve the oppressed and to awaken them to their God-given liberty from suffering. His expression of mercy tended to start right where human mercy began to peter out or to flounder on the shoals of limited resources. Consider his feeding of the multitude (see John 6:5-13). Human mercy would have been limited by the meagerness of the supply: five loaves and a few small fishes for a crowd of over five thousand. But Jesus began by giving thanks to God, by acknowledging the substantial presence of divine Love and its care. Jesus knew the boundless goodness of God; and with this spiritual understanding he was able to multiply the resources at hand. What appeared miraculous to many was natural to one who knew God and the law of divine Love as our Master did. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.'' 2 Christian Science helps awaken us to the naturalness of good. Knowing God's mercy and love, we find evidence of that divine care and affection in our own lives, and thus we learn to awaken others to see it in theirs. 1 Matthew 5:7. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494.

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