Many consider mercy to be the same as pity and that being merciful can make one feel superior to the offender. Today’s Scripture readings, through, invite us to a more nuanced understanding of mercy that we must aspire to if our lives are to be holy.
Today’s Gospel, which is part of Luke’s sermon on the plain, is a teaching on loving one’s enemies. From a practical point of view, we are told that we should treat others as we would want to be treated. More important, from a God-centered point of view, we are told to be merciful like our heavenly Father, who is kind to everyone, even the ungrateful and the wicked. The Greek word translated here as “kind” (Lk 6:35) is chrestos, meaning “useful” or “kindly”. Ironically, it was a common name for slaves in the ancient world.