Year of Mercy: Mercy and Love

The Great Convergence Is when mercy and love flow together to become ‘merciful love.’  This is the combination described as ‘hesed’ in the Old Testament and ‘agapé’ in the New Testament.  We describe it as faithful love, steadfast love, never-ending love, etc.

The source of hesed/agapé is God.  God is love.  Love is the face of God, the heart of God, and the disposition of God.  That is a revelation many do not have.  They picture God as angry, punitive, and vengeful.  Hesed/agapé eliminate that view, and it is our task to proclaim it, so that nobody will live another day holding God at arm’s length–or thinking that God holds them at arm’s length.

But there is more.  Hesed/agapé is not reserved for God.  God sheds this love into our hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, making it possible for us to be instruments of God’s love!  We can love as God loves because we are channels of God’s love.

And as such, we become merciful: mercy-full.  Jesus described this as one expression of the blessed life, and it is what Pope Francis has spent this past year emphasizing, expressing, and enacting.  Clearly, the Pope’s “Year of Mercy” is meant to symbolize the ongoing life of God’s people.  Pope Francis would now smile and say, “If you have been merciful this past year, you are off to a good start!  Never stop!”

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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