header photo

Prophetic Endurance

Mercy is the Oil of Salvation

Today I am going to talk on the subject of mercy. As Mike Mason once said in his book, Practicing the Presence of People, "Mercy is the oil in the lamp of joy."

Mason wrote an entire chapter on mercy and said: "Mercy sides with people even when they are wrong, as Jesus did. Satan is an accuser, but Jesus is our advocate. Satan kicks us when we're down, but Jesus get down beside us to absorb the kicks. In the ancient dispute between God and man, Jesus takes God's side, but he also takes man's side. In fact when push comes to shove on Calvary, Jesus by the will of God took our side, though we were plainly in the wrong."

In case we are wondering, God isn't losing his marbles if he shows us mercy. He is not weak minded if he is able to love us in spite of what we do. Yet we imagine that when others do wrong they need a severe and punitive response. God in the Old Testament was severe, but it was the job of the prophets and the prayers of the saints to talk to him in a way that made him relent.

What is that way? The way is winsome. The way is to expect mercy.

God is able to show compassion to us. It was Jesus, moved with compassion that stretched out his hand to heal. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9:36 (NIV).

If mercy is the oil of salvation, our salvation needs mercy to stay lit and feeds on the oil itself. How sad it would be if our favourite tree was full of caterpillars; this is the nature of parasites, they feed on other living organisms, and eventually kill their host. Were we like parasites to Jesus, determined to eventually kill him, or did he light our hearts to flame? We all know the answer: if our favourite tree was full of caterpillars we would light a large fire and burn them. 

Are we not being weak when we love or are merciful, particularly to sinful people? St. Therese of Lisieux had something to say about this topic. In the book on her little way of faith called The Way of Trust and Love by Fr. Jacques Philippe:

"Someone once asked me how to combine the attitude of littleness to which Therese invites us with the need to survive in this world, where any weakness or fragility can quickly put us out of the game. 

"I think it's not a question of merely surviving; we have to live in this world positively and confidently. And it's never been easy to practice the Gospel in society. . . Jesus speaks in the Gospel about this ongoing tension between Christian values and the values of society.

" 'I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.' (Matthew 10.16)

"There's realism! But it doesn't mean we're necessarily going to be eaten. God will always be our protection and refuge. . . The basic command Jesus gives to these sheep he sends out in the midst of wolves is to be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves." We must try to practice both attitudes at once. On the one hand, showing wisdom and intelligence, thinking ahead about what we are saying and to whom . . . But on the other hand, we should also keep our hearts pure and childlike. Therese says to Jesus in one of her poems: 

"I want to love you like a little child, I want to battle like a warrior bold.

"We have to fight in this world but keep our hearts pure." Or I might say it otherwise: we have to fight in this world to keep our hearts pure.

Let's keep our lamps lit; this time with mercy, like the wise virgins of the parable of Matthew 25.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

             Matthew 25: 1-13 (NIV).

Go Back


Prophetic Moments

Waiting for Jesus.

Listening to the Holy Spirit.

Urged to act by power not our own.

Worshipful Postures

Hold your hands out.

Keep your candle lit.  

Worship every day.

Pray for others. 




Quiet Time With Sea