A year of mercy

Diane

We continue our series of reflections on Micah 6:8. Here is a reflection from Diane Richardson Spaite.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 

Confession: I started singing about “doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly” with many other Steven Curtis Chapman fans who loved his song “The Walk” when it was released in 1996. While the 90’s pop Christian hit admittedly had catchy feel, there was something about the words which evoked a sobering reverence within my 15-year old being.

For as long as I can remember there’s been a yearning deep within me to surround myself with people who can teach me about justice. It’s mattered so much to me at times I’ve even put myself in the judge’s seat, assuming I know the absolutes about complex world issues or earthy human relationships. In an effort to earn my own righteousness rather than welcome others, I’ve often put intentional distance between myself and anyone I perceived as having wealth, power or affluence.

However, in the past year, my life has taken a surprising turn. Unexpected medical concerns and limited job possibilities in my fields of interest/passion landed me in a full-time job for what I would consider “corporate America,” interacting regularly with those whose primary motivator is financial gain. I’ve gone from working solely in urban areas among families struggling to make ends meet to being surrounded by people who have intentionally made choices to remove themselves from being reminded others live in poverty. This abrupt change has brought deep grief but it has also pushed me to seek God in new ways and to dig deeper into the well of mercy I find myself so desperately in need of.

Mother Teresa says this: 

We have no right to judge the rich. For our part, what we desire is not a class struggle but a class encounter, in which the rich save the poor and the poor save the rich.  -Mother Teresa (2010-10-04). No Greater Love (pp. 97-98).

Thankfully, along the way I’ve had the gift of a regular prayer companion who I connected with through the Ignatian Spirituality Center here in Kansas City. The center is focused on spiritual direction, following in the ways of Ignatius and learning to find God in our everyday lives. Through this experience, I sense something beginning to shift within my relationships with my co-workers and interactions with wealthy clients. I’m starting to feel less inclined to climb up in the judge’s chair and a softening in my spirit.

I believe both the rich and the poor are created in the image of God. And as someone who was born into this world with privilege in ways I never chose for myself, I am really hopeful God’s mercy is also for me. This year the Pope has declared it to be a global year of Jubilee. In the Pope’s 12-page paper called “The Face of Mercy,” he says:

And, what is it that ‘God likes most?’ Forgiving his children, having mercy on them, in order that they may, in their turn, forgive their brothers and sisters, shining as torches of God’s mercy in the world…

These words have brought me hope and encouragement to continue to persist in love looking for ways in which I can participate in God’s restorative justice, refining mercy and revolutionary humility smack dab in the middle of a company working towards the creation, protection and increase of personal wealth. The profoundness of scripture and the prophets to me is this: along with the wake-up call delivered to the people, there is always a redemptive path to bring the people back to right relationship and communion with Love. The judge and Micah, as spokespersons for this mysterious God, speak with purifying conviction and simultaneously offer a gracious invitation of restoration. If God is truly about redemptive justice in the world, and we are invited to participate, then it only seems fitting we may find ourselves in the oddest of places, creating outposts of invitation even for those who appear to have it all.

 

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