“我的弟兄们，你们信奉我们荣耀的主耶稣基督，便不可按着外貌待人”（雅2:1）。重富轻贫的势利行为直接违反了神 “爱人如己” 的诫命（2:8）。但在更深意义上，这是将我们的标准置于神的标准之上的一个自以为义的行为。这就是我们的主所说的：“我喜爱怜恤，不喜爱祭祀” 的真正精义（太9:13）。我们大多数人会以不同的方式陷入这个特别的陷阱而不自知。我们不能怜悯他人，因为我们没有真正领会我们已经得到的怜悯，就像在主的比喻中的那个恶仆（太18:21-35）。
Ezekiel 22 [Read]
Ezekiel 23 [Read]
James 2 [Read]
After having a hospitable dinner offered by Bishop Bienvenu and a good rest, Jean Valjean the convict took the silverware, the only valuable things in the Bishop’s home, and ran away during the night. However, it was God’s will that he was caught by three men and brought back to the Bishop the next morning. Valjean thought he was going back to prison, and he surely deserved it by paying back Bishop’s hospitality with such a heartless act. To everyone’s surprise, the Bishop quickly approached him and said “I gave you the candlesticks too. Why didn’t you take it with the silverware?” With these words, he gave Valjean the two silver candlesticks while he was dumbfounded by this surprising kindness. After the men left, the Bishop said to Valjean: “my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul I am buying for you.”
The narrative above is from “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo. To me, the action of Bishop Bienvenu defines true mercy. He took in a convict whom everyone rejected, and he provided him comfort and food. Even after Valjean’s despicable act of stealing the silverware from his poor household, the Bishop was willing to give more to save his soul. He indeed provides a best illustration for today’s NT reading.
“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism” (Js 2:1). The snobbish act of favoring the wealthy over the poor is a direct violation of God’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (2:8). But on a deeper level, it is a self-righteous act of placing our standard above God’s standard. That is the true essence of our Lord’s saying: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). In one form or another, most of us fall into this particular trap without knowing it. We cannot show mercy, because we do not truly appreciate the mercy we have received, just like the wicked servant in the Lord’s parable (Mt 18:21-35).
Valjean was completely changed by the merciful act of the Bishop, and he kept the candlestick for the rest of his life. It reminded him about the great mercy he received, so he should show mercy instead of judgment to others. This is a hard lesson for all of us, but it is comforting to know that God’s mercy always triumphs over judgment! (2:13).
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