Q&A. What is a good definition of mercy?

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Question:

What is a good definition of mercy?

Answer:

To best understand what mercy is, in the Christian sense of the word, it may be more helpful to begin by ruling out what mercy is not.  According to theologian Fr. John Colbett, O.P., mercy is not simply the strong granting favor to the weak.  Such a way of thinking is often used to mask or rationalize pride since the dispenser of mercy is essentially caught thinking of themselves as superior to the one they are helping.  Neither is mercy a matter of granting something to a person who is undeserving of it.  This kind of thinking is actually quite judgmental and maybe even spiteful since it leads one to see the receiver of mercy as having no dignity or worth.  Colbett says the best way to think of Christian mercy is to see it as restoring the dignity of another or lifting them back up to their rightful place as a precious child of God.  So the Year of Mercy is intended to be a year of “restoration” for those whom life has beaten down

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