In the [Los Angeles] riots following the first Rodney King verdict, Reginald Denny was dragged from his truck and viciously beaten by a raging gang. After his painful recovery, he met face to face with his attackers, shook hands with them, and forgave them. A reporter, commenting on the scene, wrote, "It is said that Mr. Denny is suffering from brain damage."

William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us: The Lord's Prayer & the Christian Life

Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice.

C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

An elder said: Do not judge a fornicator if you are chaste, for if you do, you too are violating the law as much as he is. For He who said thou shalt not fornicate also said thou shalt not judge.

Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert

A Christian cannot win God's forgiveness, but he can lose it by refusing to extend it to a brother.

John P. Meier, The Vision of Matthew

Upon you I call, O God, my mercy, who made me and did not forget me when I forgot you.

Augustine, The Confessions

Grace and mercy are both expressions of God's love, grace to the guilty and undeserving, mercy to the needy and helpless.

John Stott, The Letters of John

Whoever acts without mercy will be judged without mercy, but mercy can afford to laugh at judgment.

James 2:13, New Jerusalem Bible

God … does not propose to judge a man until his life is over. Why should you and I?

Samuel Johnson, quoted at

I will always regard it as an example of God's great mercy and inexhaustible creativity that so unpromising a creature [as I] might begin to turn her life to the good. And not only that: the very things that had gotten me into such irredeemable messes were the instruments of my conversion.

Kathleen Norris, The Virgin of Bennington

Have daylight mercy on my midnight soul.

A prayer in Frederick Buechner's Godric

Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not being God—for not fulfilling all my needs. I, too, must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people's needs. … The interesting thing is that when you can forgive people for not being God, then you can celebrate that they are a reflection of God.

Henri Nouwen, from "Parting Words," in The Only Necessary Thing

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It's best if both parties understand at the start [of marriage] that you're going to be two flawed people stumbling along through the years, making it up as you go.

Jane Hamilton, Disobedience: A Novel

Related Elsewhere

Past Reflections columns include:

Cross and Resurrection (April 16, 2003)
Justice (March 18, 2003)
Sex, Love, and Marriage (Feb. 14, 2003)
Mountaintop Spirituality (January 23, 2003)
Word Made Flesh (December 20, 2002)
Desert Springs (November 25, 2002)
Matters of the Mind (October 16, 2002)
Bumper stickers (August 6, 2002)
Preaching (July 18, 2002)
Prayer (June 24, 2002)
Suffering and Grief (May 20, 2002)
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)

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