Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished. Proverbs 17:5
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Matthew 5:7
There is a small group of us that practice tai chi every Wednesday afternoon over at Arneson park in Edina. Most of the time we use the gazebo, moving to the parking lot when snow is in the way. This summer a sign appeared, along with all the other signs, on the gazebo stating: “No mocking in gazebo.” We thought that seemed nice, we try not to mock people, and we try to encourage everyone no matter how well (or not so well) they do tai chi. Of course, we did finally consult with some younger people and found out what the sign really meant.
Proverbs 17:5 focuses on not mocking the poor, not being glad at calamities that make people become poor. A little hard to imagine standing around and actually doing that, however as Jesus told us even thinking about something is like doing the action. We do hear that if people are poor, it must be there fault. Couldn’t they have saved money or gotten a better education and a better job? Sometimes we might even be a little glad when someone we don’t like too well has a calamity occur. Proverbs emphasizes that those who are poor are made by God, just like all people are. When we mock or denigrate someone, we are doing that to a person of God’s creation.
Jesus, in the portion of Matthew we refer to as the Beatitudes, says that the merciful are blessed. Another translation is happy – or being merciful is a blessing and brings happiness. Mercifulness goes beyond having empathy for those in need. There is also a practical response. The merciful go beyond not mocking and demonstrate their empathy by suppling meals to the hungry, clothing to those who need it, shelter for the homeless. Then Jesus says they too will receive mercy . The mercy that God is ready to show all of us, through His grace, whether we deserve it or not.
Loving God, we are grateful for your mercy when we least deserve it. We regret our tendency to insult others and find satisfaction in their calamity, even if only in our thoughts. Lord Jesus, keep us from being blinded by worldly distractions of power and wealth. May we share your gifts of love and mercy to all, even the guilty, the poor, and the oppressed. We pray that we live our lives to reflect all the goodness and grace you offer us each day. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.