The ideal human being, the complete human being, is the one who interiorizes, absorbs in her innards, the suffering of another…in such a way that this interiorized suffering becomes a part of her, is transformed into an internal principle, the first and the last, of her activity. Mercy, as re-action, becomes the fundamental action of the total human being. Thus, this mercy is more than just one phenomenon in human reality among many. It directly defines the human being. To be sure, mercy does not suffice to define Jesus: He is a being of knowing, hoping, and celebrating, as well. On the other hand, it is absolutely necessary that mercy come into his definition. For Jesus, to be a human being is to react with mercy. Without this reaction, the essence of the human is vitiated in its root, as occurred with the priest and the Levite who “saw him and went on.” . . .
Mercy, then, is the first thing and the last. It is more than a categorical practice of the “works of mercy.” True, the practice of mercy can and ought to include these works. But mercy itself is something far more radical. Mercy is a basic attitude toward the suffering of another, whereby one reacts to eradicate that suffering for the sole reason that it exists, and in the conviction that, in this reaction to the ought-not-be of another’s suffering, one’s own being, without any possibility of subterfuge, hangs in the balance.”
Responding to the scribes, Jesus made the claim that “the Human One” has the authority to forgive sins (Mt 9:5-6), causing a stir in the crowd who “glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings” (9:8).
To go and learn mercy is to go and learn to be fully human. Jesus’ healing actions were not only illustrations of the teaching he had done on the Sermon on the Mount, they were a revelation of what it looks like to be fully human. They transgressed traditional social boundaries, proving that human beings had a divine right to set alternative boundaries to the ones set by the Domination System. They were, in the end, illustrations of the power of the divine gift (in Jesus, and then to his followers) to interiorize oneself the suffering of another. May we become such a people of mercy, that we can interiorize in us the suffering of others in such a way that this interiorized suffering becomes a part of who we are and is transformed into an internal principle, the first and the last, of our activity.