Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gentleness and mercy…

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.’

From the Catholic Information Network subsite, The Paradise of the Desert Fathers.

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.


  1. Only recently have I also come to this conclusion. Love is gentle and merciful and neither are easily found in the world or within ourselves. Exercise becomes punishment, food becomes a weapon, prayer and fasting become brutal far too easily.

    And gentleness and mercy begins with us, and within myself a rare thing to find.

  2. Thank you, Gaye. 'Exercise becomes punishment, food becomes a weapon, prayer and fasting become brutal far too easily...' How right you are. This kind of thinking is so deeply ingrained in ourselves as well as in our society.