Faith and Beliefs
Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
The few words of this brief passage capture the essence of a hope for human life that I believe lies at the heart of human aspiration -- in life as it is experienced by each of us individually and life as lived in the larger human community.
Each of these four is widely (though to be sure not universally) seen as a virtue. However, all too often they are understood and experienced as being if not exactly in opposition one to the other, then at least as alternatives. All too often "truth" is treated as though it were contrary to "mercy" and "mercy" as though it was incompatible with "truth." All too often "truth" is used as a weapon to hurt rather than to heal, and "mercy" is used as a shield against the searing cleansing of "truth." In the same way "righteousness" is far too often given, even perhaps usually given, as the justification for enmity and conflict. Our side is right; therefore, our actions to defend or enforce our understanding of the "right" are justified. "Peace" for its part is often, if not usually, understood to be an accommodation between competing perspectives or powers that allows an absence of conflict.
There is, however, nothing inherently opposed in these concepts. In an ideal world, in the perfect universe, mercy and truth are synchronous; righteousness and peace are in harmony. Further, this passage testifies to the fact that these are not simply abstractions, they are the concrete realities of life. They meet, they kiss. They exist.
It is that perfection which, as a Christian, I believe Jesus embodies. He, in Himself, brought these together into a living being. He showed, by his life and his death, that it is by means of courageous and self-less love that these elements, these life forces, are brought into harmony. It is by that living and dying, in company with him, that we approach the harmony that is the song of the universe.