Learn Mercy – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig
Br. Luke Ditewig

Matthew 9:9-13

Jesus selected a small group to particularly teach and transform. As Jesus traveled, he saw and called an unusual assortment including uneducated fishermen. Matthew, whom we remember today, is an even more striking choice. As a tax collector working for the occupying Roman Empire, he was considered a traitor, outcast by the Jewish community. 

Walking along, likely amid a crowd asking questions, Jesus saw Matthew. Jesus paid attention to the periphery and saw those looked down on or overlooked. Looking widely, Jesus saw Matthew, saw a human with dignity and worth. Matthew, an outcast seen and invited in, experienced Jesus’ mercy.

 “Why eat with tax collectors and sinners?” say self-confident, serious, secure religious folk. Condemn traitors. Build barriers. Stick together. Keep yourselves clean.

“Go and learn what this means,” Jesus said, “‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’” Matthew followed Jesus to learn what this meant spending his days Peter, James, John, and other unlikely companions.

How do we learn mercy? Here are three ways: Look, Honor, and Receive. Look widely. Pay attention not only to those close to you. Look to the periphery, see and welcome the outcast and stranger. 

Honor mystery. We Brothers say in our Rule of Life: “… we honor the mystery present in the hearts of our brothers and sisters, strangers and enemies. Only God knows them as they truly are and in silence we learn to let go of the curiosity, presumption and condemnation which pretends to penetrate the mystery of their hearts.”[i]

Receive wisdom. What do others have to teach you, especially companions you didn’t or wouldn’t choose? 

We remember St. Matthew, one whom Jesus selected, shaped, and sent with love. Following, we continue to learn mercy. Look widely. Honor mystery. Receive wisdom.

[i]SSJE Rule of Life, Chapter 27: Silence

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  1. Stephen Kim on September 21, 2023 at 10:22

    Thank you so much Br. Luke for this.


  2. gwedhen nicholas on September 21, 2023 at 09:16

    I desire mercy not sacrifice. This reminds me of the story beginning in Matthew 18:21. The master forgave his slave the debt the man owed, but the man did not have mercy on his fellow slave. In a way, mercy is sacrifice. One has to put aside ones arrogance and give mercy out of a tender heart. Only then will love be served.

  3. James Rowland on September 22, 2020 at 08:03

    Thank you, Br Luke, for reminding me that the only thing we can really know of others is that they are human, just like us.

  4. Elizabeth Hardy on September 21, 2020 at 11:02

    Well that’s my task for the day- for life really – learn mercy and unlearn judgement. Thanx Br Luke, succinctly put. Elizabeth Hardy+

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