Be Merciful — Center for Action and Contemplation

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.


See the schedule and event session details for the final CONSPIRE conference (Sep. 24 – 26)

Be Merciful

The Beatitudes

Be Merciful
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Guest writer and CAC teacher Cynthia Bourgeault continues exploring Jesus’ eight blessings known as the Beatitudes.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” —Matthew 5:7

In this Beatitude Jesus again returns to the idea of flow. Notice that there’s an exchange going on here: we give mercy and we receive mercy. And this is not coincidental, for the root of the word “mercy” comes from the old Etruscan merc, which also gives us “commerce” and “merchant.” It’s all about exchange.

Usually we think of the mercy of God as a kind of divine clemency, and we pray, “Lord have mercy upon us” as a confession of our weakness and dependency. (Because these qualities are distasteful to a lot of modern people, the “Lord have mercy” prayer has gone a bit out of style.) But in this other understanding, mercy is not something God has so much as it’s something that God is.

Exchange is the very nature of divine life—of consciousness itself, according to modern neurological science—and all things share in the divine life through participation in this dance of giving and receiving. The brilliant young South African teacher Michael Brown writes in The Presence Process: “Giving-is-receiving is the energetic frequency upon which our universe is aligned. All other approaches to energy exchange immediately cause dissonance and disharmony in our life experience.” [1]

Surely Jesus knew this as well, and his teaching in this Beatitude invites us into a deeper trust of that flow. Exchange is at the very heart of his understanding of “no separation.”

Gateway to Silence:
Create in me a pure heart, O God.

[1] Michael Brown, The Presence Process (Namaste Publishing: 2005), 246.

Adapted from Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—A New Perspective on Christ and His Message (Shambhala: 2008), 45.

Image credit: View from the Mount of Beatitudes, between Capernaum and Gennesaret, Israel.
Join Our Email Community

Stay up to date on the latest news and happenings from Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation.

HTML spacer