Daily Word of Grace # 53 (May 28, 2020)

In Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice Portia pleads for mercy for Antonio in one of the most beautiful descriptions of mercy ever written: “The quality of mercy is not strained.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.  It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.  ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest.  It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.  His scepter 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 the sceptered sway.  It is enthroned in the hearts of kings.  It is an attribute of God himself” (IV.i.173-184).  Mercy is indeed “mightiest in the mightiest” and “an attribute of God himself.”  Every year in the collect for Ash Wednesday from The Book of Common Prayer we pray to “the God of all mercy” who out of mercy freely grants us “perfect remission and forgiveness” (264).  We may keep a record of the wrongs we have done, along with a record of the wrongs others have done to us, but God covers every record of wrongs with mercy that continually “droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven” because on Good Friday Jesus’ blood gently dropped from the cross, and God’s “mercies never come to an end” (Lamentations 3:22).  In response Jesus calls us to follow his example, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36)—for truly mercy “blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Love and Prayers,