Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Misery and Mercy

In the process of working on a book I came across one of the most captivating statements made by Saint Augustine. He was commenting on the encounter Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees in which they tried to trap him with Old Testament teaching. A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus, where was the man, and they quoted the passage that condemned her to be stoned. As Jesus laid open their deceptive hearts and guilty lives they left him and the woman alone.

In a way that only Jesus could and can do, all condemnation was renounced and he gave her freedom and a challenge. His mercy set her spirit free and his justice warned her of the consequences of actions. The two left alone, the guilty and the guiltless, the sinner and the sinless, the lawbreaker and the advocate. Alone before God, as we all will be at some point in time. Back to Augustine. He writes, "the two were left alone: Misery and Mercy."

Doesn't that thought just thrill your heart? Picture with me the most vivid example of human misery. A soul ensnared and chained by actions and depravity, lost in despair and ruined by repetitive failings. Mercy enters the room and it flames with light. A head hung low with eyes focused on dirt is lifted heavenward. The scars and bruises of life are covered in the healing oil of Mercy. Mercy, the very act of God in which the pain and guilt of sin is removed and the deepest understanding of new life and forgiveness is revealed.

Facing my Creator I will stand, "The two were left alone: misery and Mercy."

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