I watched the film adaptation of the Merchant of Venice over the last two evenings. It’s another wonderful tale by William Shakespeare.
“The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good – in spite of all the people who say he is very good.”
Robert Graves (1895-1985)
In the discussion in the court between Shylock and Antonio, a lengthy exchange transpires between the merits of Judgment and Mercy. It caught my attention and my thoughts.
Judgment is natural. It extracts that which is owed or deserved from the owing party. When we are in position, we gain from those who owe us. It’s expected. It’s defendable. It’s human.
But Mercy is something different; mercy is not considered normal. It allows those who owe us to gain from us. It makes those deserving compensation to be wronged a second time. Mercy, however, is godly.
Mercy is what God offers. God forgives all debt, wrongs, and shortcomings. No payment is possible and yet payment is made. The guilty is made whole and given a chance to start anew.
The chance to be merciful is offered to us as well. When we extend Mercy to others, to show love and forgiveness to others; we partake of the rare chance to do that which we also seek. We can act in the manner of our God.
I wonder how many chances I pass daily. The chances to forgive, to smile, and to simply give. Especially to those who have not directly earned it from me. Or have directly not earned it from me. These are my true chances to gain in a meaningful way. I become free of ill will, vanity, and desires of revenge.
I need to forgive more. I know this to be true.
I need to start with myself.
Whether I deserve it or not.