Weekly Word 17 March 2015

Illustration by Kevin Christopher M. Tee (2015)
Illustration by Kevin Christopher M. Tee (2015)

| ˈməːsi |

In my editorial for the CSR Learner’s Corner a week ago, I wrote about the January 2015 visit of His Holiness Pope Francis here in the Philippines. The theme was “Mercy and Compassion” – which sums up not just his visit, but his entire papacy, the entire Church – and even Christianity itself. It’s a very comforting, reassuring, and liberating thought.

If you look at the etymology below, the word “mercy” is ultimately Christian. The love of God for us is rooted in mercy: because although we, as sinners, do not deserve eternal life in heaven and deserve only eternal death in hell, God loves us so much that He sent His only Son, His perfect and sinless Son, to take all the blame for us, and die an excruciating and humiliating death for us – so that we can enjoy eternal life. God loves us unconditionally – meaning even with all our flaws and sins, He is very much willing to accept us into His loving arms if we choose to follow Him. He could have chosen to keep punishing us or become distant from us, but He did not, and in fact He takes the initiative to draw us back to Him. That is loving mercy.

Now, as individuals living the good life well, we are called to glorify God and serve Him and others. How? By following Christ’s example. We are not to become godlike, for that would mean challenging God’s sovereignty, but we who are created in God’s image and likeness are to become godly, meaning we exude the qualities that Christ has. The first and foremost of which, of course, is love.

If God can forgive us our sins and even withhold punishment over and over again, but we cannot do the same to others who do us wrong, then we are not deserving of God’s own mercy. Because if we believe that that mercy is not to be given, then with the same logic, we should also accept it if God does not grant us His mercy.

Is there someone whom you should grant your loving mercy to today?

Definition

noun [mass noun]

  • compassion or forgiveness shown towards sb. whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm
    • [count noun] an event to be grateful for, because it prevents sth. unpleasant or provides relief from suffering
    • [as a modifier – especially of a journey or mission] performed out of a desire to relieve suffering

Etymology

Middle English, from Old French merci (“pity”, “thanks”), itself from Latin mercesmerced- (“reward”; Christian Latin “pity”, “favor”, “heavenly reward”).

In other languages

  • Bahasa Indonesia: belas kasihanrahmat
  • بهاس ملايو:
    • رحمة (rahmat); بلس كاسيهن (belas kasihan)
  • Cebuano: kaluoy
  • Deutsch: die Barhermzigkeit; die Gnade
  • Español: la misericordia
  • Filipino: awahabag
  • Français: la miséricorde; la pitié
  • 한국어: 자비 (jabi)
  • Italiano: la misericordia; la pietà
  • ភាសាខ្មែរ: មេត្ដាករុណា (me tda krounea)
  • Latino: misericordiaclementia
  • မြန်မာဘာသာ: သနားခြင်း (sanarr hkyinn)
  • 日本語: 慈悲 (じひ); 容赦 (ようしゃ)
  • ພາສາລາວ: ຄວາມເມດຕາ (khuaam medta)
  • ภาษาไทย: ความเมตตา (khwām mettā)
  • தமிழ்: கருணை (karuṇai)
  • Tiếng Việt: thương xótđộ lượng
  • 中文: 憐憫 / 怜悯 (liánmǐn); 慈悲 (cíbēi)
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