I have been intrigued since seeing these words together. Last week I wrote about the need to “Awake the Dawn” in a secularized world. The idea of conspiring with mercy brings a key insight to drawing twilight towards the fullness of day.
Conspiracy is defined as a secret plan with others to do something unlawful or harmful. Mercy, on the other hand, is to offer compassion or forgiveness to someone who it’s within one’s power to punish or harm. Put the two together and you become a conspirator in a fallen world conspiring with its creator while using his primary weapon to set it right.
The action of the Father sending his Son into the world was “conspiring with mercy”. Jesus turned the tables on Satan and his dominions with his resurrection, dealing the fallen nature of man and the consequences of death its fateful blow. When Satan thought the defeat of his “enemy” was in hand it turned into Jesus’ triumph. “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)
As Christ, we’re called to the same conspiracy of mercy. The theologian James Keenan, S.J. describes mercy as entering into chaos to help others in need. Certainly this is what Jesus did and what we’re called to do.
What intrigues me is the idea of being a conspirator against the principalities and powers, the secularized world and our fallen nature using the weapon of mercy, just as the Father did with Jesus. (I enjoy the juxtaposition of conspiring to signify doing the right thing with non-worldly means to “harm” the world in its rebellious intent.)
Let me illustrate with an example. Many of us find ourselves in situations with individuals who are doing terrible things to people we care about. This person’s behavior may be detrimental to another person who we love deeply and is very vulnerable. The “perpetrator” may not be doing anything unlawful but is doing something very harmful.
From the world’s view, it would be “justifiable” to relate to this person with condemnation and anger, though my experience is this doesn’t make things better and generally worse. Conspiring with mercy implies that we reach out with kindness, forgiveness and a charity with the hope it will draw the person to a better place. As Keenan states, entering into this person’s own chaos to help a person who is clearly in need.
Their actions aren’t getting them what they want, but only making themselves more miserable. They themselves have been deceived.
This is not about condoning bad behavior. However, forgiveness, compassion, and mercy sets us free to be open to what God wants to do with this individual and any part he might want each of us to play. This is similar to the approach the families in the Charleston shooting took and underscores the grace of forgiveness.
Our call has always been to draw everyone into a vital, living relation with Christ. Once we were a “Christianized” society. It had it’s own disadvantages, but there was a certain restraint society place on some of our worse behaviors. Today, we’re clearly a “secularized” society without the same constraints. This is letting loose increased immoral behavior, self-deception, and antagonism to those who choose a Christian life. We could respond with moral outrage, anger, revenge, and retribution.
However, it seems to be more important to bring Christ to life, making him real and tangible to those around us. Conspiring with mercy is a key part. Christianity is an encounter with a living person and an event that transforms our lives with new perspective and understanding, lives fueled by love, mercy, and the fruits of the Spirit. It changes our view of others from the point of sin to the point of mercy.
It’s simple…but hard. There are no systematized rules to live this by, only the leading of the Spirit changing us deep within and being applied to specific situations. We proceed cautiously and humbly as those who have experienced first-hand the conspiracy of mercy and seek to go forth formed by a life in the body of Christ.