A few weeks ago my friend, my former teacher, was killed by a hit and run driver. As a Sister of Mercy, it is believed that she would have asked for "justice with mercy" regarding the punishment of her killer. The phrase "justice with mercy" has been running through my head. I've been having a hard time making sense out of it. So, in true teacher form, I consulted the dictionary.
Justice: "the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments; the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity; the quality of being just, impartial, or fair"
Mercy: "compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment , a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion."
My understanding, based solely on the definitions, is that she would have wanted him to be punished fairly because he did something wrong. But, she would not have wanted him to be punished severely despite what he did. She would not have wanted him to lose his life because he took hers. He did not intend to go out and kill her. He was just driving.
Spending his life in prison won't change the fact that he killed her. It won't bring her back. In fact, if he spent, his life in prison two lives would be lost...
She loved life. She loved every minute of her life and encouraged others to live the same way. It is not our job to judge this man who took her life. God is the only judge. Our God is a merciful God. God asks us to have mercy on others because He has mercy on us. He is the only one who can withhold mercy.
Micah 7:18 tells us not to hold a grudge but, to have mercy. In order to show mercy toward those who hurt others, we must have grace (God working within us.) God must be at work in me in order to find the strength to forgive the man who took such a wonderful life from this world.
I find comfort in knowing that she is not gone forever. We will see her again. She would want us to take this situation and turn it into something wonderful, something positive. She would want us to live each day fully and walk in her footsteps filling each day with works of mercy both corporal and spiritual.
The corporal works of mercy are:
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To harbor the harborless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offenses willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
- To pray for the living and the dead.