Read: Mark 7: 24-37
Meditation: “Everyone is Eligible”
The two stories which comprise this week’s lectionary reading combine to tell us that no one is excluded from the mercy of Christ. The first story takes place in Tyre and Sidon; the second “back home” in the Decapolis around Galilee. It’s Mark’s way of saying that everyone is within reach of Christ’s touch.
Writing about this, St. John Chrysostom said, “Mercy is the highest art and the shield of those who practice it. It is the friend of God, standing next to Him and freely blessing whatever He wishes….[Mercy] breaks chains, dispels darkness, extinguishes fire, kills the worm and takes away the gnashing of teeth. By it the gates of heaven open with the greatest of ease. In short, mercy is a queen that makes men like God.”
When our Gospel lesson combines with the perception of Chrysostom and the Christian tradition, it’s no wonder that liturgy always includes the cry, “Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy!”
Except for the pathological, who know neither how to give or receive mercy, it is what all of us know we need most. It is the greatest gift we can receive from another person. It is the gift Jesus poured out in abundance wherever he went.