Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Tag: forgiving

Revenge Begets Revenge

Revenge begets revenge,
Truth spins and evaporates
As blood drains from the head.
It is the law of Zeus:
A life for a life.
What is human life worth?
More than itself, more than a life,
Or less? Or precisely the same?
The law of Zeus demands
A life for a life.
All – for all.
But this law of Zeus
Is a kind of disease
Inherited through the blood.
See how it has crazed
Every member of this house.

Aeschylus from Agamemnon (translated by Ted Hughes)

Justice is vital to society – ‘It is the law of Zeus’ – yet Justice can easily become a disease. Is there an answer: only forgiveness and mercy can end the craziness that Justice creates when it is unleashed without limits.

The Mohawk Prayer

“Because are human, we are going to mess up, we are going to make errors and omissions – so we are asking for your forgiveness in advance…”
My thanks Nan Carle for sharing this with me. It needs no commentary.

Justice and Mercy

“Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha said: Once when I entered into the innermost part [of the sanctuary] to offer incense I saw Akhateriel Yah,  [trans. the crown of God] seated upon a high and exalted throne. He said to me, “Ishmael, My son, bless Me!” I replied, “May it be Your will that Your mercy subdue Your wrath and Your mercy prevail over Your other attributes, so that You deal with Your children, according to the attribute of mercy; and may You, on their behalf, stop short of the limit of strict justice!” And He nodded His head toward me. Here we learn [incidentally] that the blessing of an ordinary man is not to be regarded lightly in our eyes.”

 From the Jewish Book of Legend

In the Jewish and Christian tradition we are all too aware that we need God to stop short of the demands of strict justice and that mercy must subdue God’s proper wrath.

The Quality of Mercy

“Rabbi Berekhiah said: When the Holy One was almost about to create Adam, he saw both the righteous and the wicked who were to issue from him. So He said: If I create him, wicked men will issue from; if I do not create him how are righteous men to be born? What did the Holy one do? He diverted the way of the wicked from before His sight, partnered the quality of mercy with Himself [saying to it, “Let us make man”], and then created him.”

 From the Jewish Book of Legend

The idea that God must remove the wicked from his sight means that he is prepared to overlook all our sins. This is mercy. This is forgiveness. This is absolute.

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