Happiness Is Mercy
I believe if we took a poll as to which Beatitude was the most popular one - the 5th Beatitude would win, hands down. Now we have trouble understanding the poor in spirit. It's hard to perceive how the meek will inherit the earth and to think about mourning, agony, sorrow, we have some difficulty. We look at these early precepts of the Master from the Sermon on the Mount, and we see their shape and paradox and in contradiction - they are hidden so many times, and we have a tough time putting our hands on them and apprehending them and saying, ''I agree with that.'' But this saying, this morning ''Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.'' We teach this to our children, unapologetically. We say, ''You be nice and the world will be nice to you. You show mercy and mercy will come back.''
This is the American way of benevolence and charity - this is the Red Cross spirit, among us. This is humanism at its best.
George Bernard Shaw wrote a play entitled ANDROCLES AND THE LION. We studied it when we were young. Androcles, you remember, was a slave during the time of Tiberius and he ran away from his Master and was hiding in a cave. And a lion was walking by, limping, because there was a thorn in one paw. Androcles went out, bravely and boldy and stopped the lion and the lion held the paw in helplessness to the man and he extracted, skillfully, the thorn that was crippling the beast. That was the first scene.
The next scene, years had gone by and you see now, Androcles, the slave, in the circus at the Coliseum - a large crowd has gathered to see him punished for his rebelliousness - the Emperor said, ''We will feed him to the lions.'' And so Androcles is thrown into the middle of the arena and out comes the lion, to devour him. But the lion remembers - THANK GOD! And so the lion goes up to Androcles and sort of nuzzles against him and Androcles rubs the back of the beast, and there is a moment of reconcili ...
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