A new vista
With this Beatitude we are turning a corner. The previous Beatitudes deal with the attributes peculiar to us as human beings who aspire to Christhood. But beginning with this Beatitude, we are challenged to take up the attributes of God Himself. This is quite reasonable, considering that in the same sermon in which He gave the Beatitudes, the Lord Jesus said: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
The meaning of mercy
“Blessed are the merciful.” What does it mean to be merciful? Eleimon means to have real compassion, to actually feel and suffer with another person, to be intensely aware of another’s pain, and to feel a yearning for their healing. This is the nature of real mercy which is rooted in divine love resulting from the experiential consciousness of the unity of all existence as the manifest Being of God Who is love. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).
Receiving to give
“For they shall obtain mercy.” This divine mercy is not a mere feeling sorry for those who are suffering (or who are too unaware of their actual condition to experience suffering). Nor is it only a feeling or a caring. Rather, eleithesontai has a dual meaning: to receive mercy and to give mercy. This is the clue to realization of this Beatitude. First we must receive the mercy of God in its plenitude–which is something far more than getting a little temporal health, wealth, or happiness from the divine treasury.
To receive mercy is to be fully restored into the divine image, to be consciously reassumed into the Life that is God–and then, as god with God, to be able to impart the same healing and restoration to others, or at least to awaken them to the possibility of their healing and direct them to the Source of healing.
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). This will be the experience of those who embody this Beatitude.
The two follies
There are two great follies in spiritual life. The first is to believe that continual, external involvement with others on either the intellectual or material plane is being “spiritual.” The second is to become completely self-centered and self-absorbed, turning in on oneself and ignoring–or even denying–the reality of anyone else. This Beatitude shows the correct sequence in spiritual life. We must first attend to our own healing before we can impart healing to others.
Read the next article in Gnosis of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.