a diploma in the school of mercy
"If he succeeds in finding it, believe Me he is happier about this one than about the ninety-nine that did not wander away." —Matthew 18:13
The ninety-nine sheep paid a portion of the cost of mercy for the lost sheep to be found. They were left "in the wasteland" (Lk 15:4) without the intimate comfort of the Good Shepherd. Then they had to watch the Master rejoice more in the finding of the wayward sheep than in their own faithfulness.
Moses also paid a portion of the cost of mercy. He endured forty years of desert heat accompanied by the revolts of the Israelites against him. He finally led them to the border of the Promised Land only to have to step aside and let Joshua lead Moses' people into the land (Dt 31:2-3).
The Lord teaches us first about mercy by being merciful to us personally. As we mature in discipleship, He then leads us into the graduate school of mercy. We watch Him rejoice as He dispenses mercy to others (Mt 9:13), for He delights in mercy (Mi 7:18). One of God's required graduate courses in mercy is to learn to rejoice when others get mercy at our expense (Lk 15:27ff). We serve Jesus for years and then get a front-row seat to watch the newcomers receive the same reward as ourselves (Mt 20:9ff). Jesus makes us watch so that we can watch Him rejoice. If we are His true disciples, we will rejoice in what makes Jesus rejoice (see Rm 12:15). Like John the Baptizer, rejoice when you decrease so that the mercy of Jesus will increase (Jn 3:26, 30).
Prayer: Father, may I desire mercy like Jesus does (Mt 9:13).
Promise: "It is the Lord Who marches before you; He will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you." Dt 31:8
Praise: Pope St. Pontian and St. Hippolytus were once at odds over church doctrine. They were reconciled as fellow prisoners and each received a martyr's crown.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 15, 2019
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