Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Fifth Beatitude

"How blest are those who show mercy; mercy shall be shown to them"

"They are merciless, totally without pity," wrote Etty Hillesum from her concentration camp, "and we must be all the more merciful ourselves.... Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others. And remember than in every atom of hate we add to this world makes it still more inhospitable." [Etty, a Diary: 1941-1943, London, Jonathan Cape, pp. 157 and 180.]

How blest are we when we no longer need to take the role of the accuser, the evil one; how blest are we when we know that every sin is our sin and our forgivenness unites us with the other; how blessed are we when our hearts are broken by compassion and become unflinchingly honest because we see that the sin of the other is the sin we do not wish to face in ourselves; how blest are we when our wounds open us to the Silence of God, which creates in us the context of forgivenness, the environment where others no longer feel the need either to oppress or rebel, the moment when condemnation dissolves and, embracing, we wash one another with tears.


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