The Quality of Mercy


Shakespeare wrote in the “The Merchant of Venice”

“The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

…Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy,

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy.”


Martin Luther preached a sermon in 1522 on Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”   By his time, he had been excommunicated, declared an outlaw by Charles V, faced opposition from those who thought he wasn’t moving fast enough, and Suleiman’s troops threatened Europe from the East.

“Whatever good and honor God gives us, it is out of sheer mercy.  He sees we are stuck in death, and He has mercy upon us and gives us life.  He sees that we are children of hell, and He has mercy upon us and gives us heaven.  He sees that we are poor, naked, hungry, and thirsty, and He has mercy upon us and clothes, feeds, gives us drink.  Thus all that we have in body and spirit He gives us out of sheer mercy, and pours out all His goodness upon us.

The mercy of Christians must not seek its own, but must be complete and comprehensive, regarding friend and foe alike, as our Father in heaven does.

And where this mercy is absent, faith is also absent.”


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