The Beatitudes: blessed are the merciful.
It’s easy to read the Beatitudes and see a ‘cause and effect’ idea – a commercial exchange of mercy given for mercy returned, a karmic idea that if you don’t experience mercy from others, it’s because you haven’t been merciful.
Mercy is one of God’s Big Ideas not a prescriptive formula. The Beatitudes are a poetic utterance being spoken by Jesus to his disciples (a more personal and intimate moment than we imagine) to change their way of thinking and seeing, the metanoia.
This Big Idea resonates through the whole Gospel but we tend to see transactional formulas instead and we read these Scriptures through the lens of our own experience, even the Lord’s Prayer.
Although we have taken Jesus saying ‘Ok, pray in this way’ to mean actual repetition of the exact words he used, the Lord’s Prayer is a way of praying, a way of being. When Jesus says ‘your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven’, we get stuck on the separation between Earth and Heaven, but the will of God is mercy and therefore, we are all meant to obtain mercy.
A new way of seeing
Our minds are pattern machines. We apportion meaning based on what we have experienced – ‘after it, therefore because of it.’ This is a consequence of living in chronology. We live in a river of time, but the Divine Mind (God) is outside of time. The ‘cause and effect’ theory is real, but only when tied to chronology.
Happy are the merciful for they will obtain mercy. But there is no chronology mentioned. Here is the Big Idea. We are all interconnected. If we position ourselves as people of mercy and obtain mercy for the collective, unrelated to chronology.
Jesus was merciful, yet treated without mercy but in the interconnectedness of all things there is the obtaining of mercy for all of us.
There is always something larger at play than a single individual outcome – a gigantic redemptive picture over the Earth and a different way of being, far removed from the autonomous individualistic manner in which we live today.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
The world is not how we perceive it. Einstein proposed that things are far more connected than we realise and in fact, everything is relative. What we think of as space and time being separate are actually connected. When you move further out into space, time changes. This is called time dilation and it means engineers have to intentionally set the clocks fractionally slower (38,500 nanoseconds in fact) so they are accurate once in orbit. Everything is connected and has an effect.
So what if we were to think whenever you are merciful, you are obtaining mercy instantly – just not for you, for the broader connected family.
Our autonomous, individual way of living and seeing the world has more to do with the modern affliction of anxiety and depression than what we realise. One of the ways to battle anxiety and depression is to think about others, not yourself.
Mercy is a great distraction and obtaining it for others can make you happy. You can create an environment, a social construct around you, just by being how you are. That’s the nature of our social and emotional antenna. An open loop system that is constantly looking outside our ourselves for clues as to how things are.
Our judgement of other individuals is flawed, as is our construct of the world. But those of us who choose to be merciful are demonstrating compassion for their existence as another human being.
Willliam Shakespeare, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE Act IV Scene 1
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.