Becky Eldredge has been observing the Year of Mercy at her blog through a series of posts on the works of mercy, many by guest bloggers. In a reflection on clothing the naked, Beth Knobbe begins:
Welcomed or unexpected, mercy invites us into relationship with one another. Even the best of relationships are complex, filled with ups and downs, and take a lot of effort. When we enter into relationship with those in need of mercy, we can almost guarantee that it will be difficult before it ever reaches the point of being sacred or profound.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about clothing the naked, and it raised all sorts of questions! When we encounter someone who is hungry, thirsty, or homeless, there is a temptation to react impulsively. We feel compelled to do something! But if mercy is about being drawn into relationship, is it enough for me to anonymously donate my used stuff to a shelter or second-hand store? Who am I helping, and does my assistance lead to a sustainable solution?
How can thinking about relationships draw you into experiences of mercy? What questions do you need to ask yourself to be able to respond generously to the needs of others?
I often feel we get the story of the Good Samaritan wrong. It is usually portrayed as to the importance of showing mercy regardless,even to the most despised and rejected. In that case,why did Jesus not put the Samaritan on the ground?
Instead Jesus turned the whole thing round as He usually does! Now the Jew on the ground is in a relationship with the Samaritan which one cannot walk away from. It is not me helping the alcoholic and feeling good about it. It is the alcoholic helping me. Now we are in a new relationship.
I volunteer at a local Food Bank. I don’t know if I can answer your questions, I just know that this work is my way of showing mercy each week, and I think anything one does, from donating clothing and food to writing those much-needed checks “counts.” The important thing is not to get so hung up on the questions that you fail to ACT. Any act of mercy is better than none!