While Abba Macarius was praying in his cave in the desert, a hyena suddenly appeared and began to lick his feet and taking him gently by the hem of his tunic, she drew him towards her own cave. He followed her, saying, ‘I wonder what this animal wants me to do?’ When she had led him to her cave, she went in and brought her cubs which had been born blind. He prayed over them and returned them to the hyena with their sight healed. She in turn, by way of thank offering, brought the man the huge skin of a ram and laid it at his feet. He smiled at her as if at a kind person and taking the skin spread it under him…
One of the beloved of Christ who had the gift of mercy used to say, ‘The one who is filled with mercy ought to offer it in the same manner in which he has received it, for such is the mercy of God.’
As I have tried, very falteringly, to follow Jesus these last 30-odd years, it has gradually been borne in upon me how much of the Christian life is, or should be, simply a matter of gentleness and mercy. However much we may study, meet in fellowship, write, discuss and even pray, unless we grow in gentleness we are not growing more like our Saviour.
I have so very far to go: I am still so prone to anger and to judgement, to defensiveness and assertiveness. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.