The compassion of Francis: he prays for water for his thirsty guide and a spring wells up.
Religion and mercy have often spearheaded protests against injustice and violence as well as providing the impetus for social action. Seeking to get rid of misfortune and innocent suffering by force [as Marxism] did not just fail but caused intense suffering and persecution for millions, it became Lenin’s world, with the death of God paving the way for superman. It is reported that on his deathbed Lenin regretted the cruelty and bloodshed of his well-intentioned revolution: I have deluded myself. Without doubt, it was necessary to free the oppressed masses. However, our methods resulted in other oppressions and gruesome massacres. You know I am deathly ill; I feel lost in an ocean of blood formed by countless victims. This was necessary to save our Russia, but it is too late to turn back. We would need ten Francis of Assisi.”
Germany’s National Socialism praised whatever made you strong; lauding I did it my way! The impact of this was self-centred living, marginalising and excluding. Words like mercy and pity were no longer fashionable. Pity took on a negative connotation – and yet, experiences of compassion and pity remained strong and evident; with many choosing to follow such ways.
The cries for sympathy are by no means always unheard – even though the actual words mercy and pity are not much used. We are disturbed and alarmed by so much inhumanity and cruelty; natural disasters like earthquakes and floods evoke a response, when charity giving is most generous. Compassion, entering by choice into the sufferings of others, is doing well and temporarily, brings us more together – compassion is still around, though under new names.
There is much more than sentiment here; we are moved by the passion in compassion; hearing the cry of the poor enough to be determined to respond. Perfect [universal] justice is not achievable in this world, which is why Genesis tells us that it is not for us to decide what is good – not a prohibition, but we are not big enough to do it. When we decide what is good for us, there will always be exceptions, whereas God’s justice is universal mercy: The father of mercy… 2 Corinthians 1.3.
There are numerous victims of natural disasters where support depends entirely on compassion – thankfully such compassion is not in short supply. The presence of God, the father of mercy, is readily detected here.
pain and innocent suffering are as old as humankind, and all religions ask why and try to answer; asking for deliverance from pain and the strength to endure. How can we believe in a merciful God in the heart of this? Can suffering and mercy live together in a positive way? What does the sermon on the Mount mean by blessed are the merciful?