Tough, Gentle Mercy

by Angela Lambert



October 29th, 2016; 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Luke 19:1-10

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Meditation Reflection:

As Jesus’ disciples, we too share in His mission to seek and save the lost.  During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has exhorted us to be more proactive in this mission – to intentionally practice mercy daily through concrete actions and to make efforts to see those in need of help around us.  People who are lost, by definition, don’t know their way back home.  Thus, we need to seek them out, to find them where they are drifting, and to gently walk the journey back with them.

How do we do this?  It depends on the relationship and the situation.  The one consistent in every attempt however, is prayer.  Since we follow Christ, we must begin by listening to Him and letting Him lead.

Each person and each situation require prudence and a tailored response.  I can propose some general ideas and lessons I’ve learned, but every lost or drifting soul must be cared for on a prayerful and individual basis.

Seeking the lost begins at home with the people God has entrusted to us.  It’s much easier to dote on our children than to discipline them and to complain or criticize our parents or spouse than to gently correct them.  Yet, those closest to us can drift away and get lost if sins get left unchecked.  Although people make their own choices, we must do what we can to seek them out when they begin to pull away from God or goodness.

For parents, this means doing the work of discipline.  For young children, it teaches them self-control, right from wrong, and starts them off on the right track with good habits.  For teens, it can be trickier.  Their struggles are heavier, more embarrassing at times, and better hidden.  Discipline has to not only reform their habits but also their minds and hearts.  How to reach a child’s heart is a daunting task to attempt and one prone to failure, nevertheless we have a Christian and parental duty to try the best we can out of love.  We must endeavor to be bold, suck it up, and lovingly try to help them get back on track just as our heavenly Father does for us.

“But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things! Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!”  Wisdom 11:26-12:2

When another adult in one’s family begins to stray, it requires just as much care and prudence.  It also requires greater understanding, compassion, and forgiveness on our part since we will likely be affected ourselves by their choices or we may struggle with feelings of disappointment or betrayal.  If we can be patient and prayerful however, knowing them so well can work in our favor to gently move them in a way that resonates with them personally.

Friends and acquaintances may be less open about their struggles but we can do small things to let them know we see they’re hurting and we are here to help.  Pray about whether to have a direct conversation or to indirectly point them through example, invitations, or suggestions.  Ask Mary to help you see their need and do what you can to meet it.  It may be material needs that can be met with physical gifts, emotional needs that can be met with a listening ear or a word of encouragement, loneliness which can be soothed through invitation to coffee or dinner, or spiritual need which might be aided by being brave enough to share your own faith openly with them or to pray with them.



  • When have you received merciful love? How did it change you?
  • How have the challenges you have faced enabled you to recognize the same struggle in others and better equipped to help?
  • Who do you find the most difficult to love and who do you find it easiest to care for?

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Pray for Christ to show you an opportunity to offer mercy to someone each day this week.Works of Mercy
  • Consider joining with others to help: volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, lead a bible study, volunteer at a food shelf, organize meals for a neighbor or colleague who is sick…


~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016

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2 thoughts on “Tough, Gentle Mercy

  1. Pingback: Hard to Believe | Take Time For Him

  2. Pingback: The Trap of Stubborn Self-Reliance | Take Time For Him

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