Matthew 5: 1-12 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Psalm 96 “O sing to the Lord a new song.”

“Where you ‘at’ with people asking you why you wear a cross?” I ask. This is an ongoing discussion as our Native Episcopalians encounter college students who are hostile to the Church, any Church.

“I really get tired of people asking me if I hate gays or if I am going to judge them,” says one of our nineteen year old young adults. “Some people stare at my cross and then sneer.”

Another youth says, “I get the same thing or they go out of their way to avoid me. At first I thought it was because I am Native but I think it is the cross.”

“So, what do you say?” I ask.

“I tell them that my faith is about helping people, especially the homeless and street kids,” says one of the youth. “That usually works. Some of them even say ‘cool.’ One asked me if I was earning brownie points to heaven by doing this. I just stared at him.”

“So why do you do it?” I ask.

We talked about it and he finally says, “I remember when we were acting up and instead of yelling at us, you bought us each a meal. We laugh and stuff and then see an old

homeless man on the curb outside. Someone suggest we buy him a meal. I was full and feeling good and felt funny about just eaten some real good food with someone who is hungry. We bought him food and somehow I felt peaceful inside.”

I have reflected on this over the years. It is a kind of cycle. We don’t show mercy to get something. We are shown mercy, like a time when we get something good instead of a punishment. Then we do something merciful in return. Our eyes are opened. Mercy happens to us again and again. And again we show mercy. This is what has happened to our youth group.

Being merciful gets into our blood. Part of it is conscious and part unconscious. We are shown mercy when we don’t deserve it. We recognize it as mercy. And almost like a compulsion, we show someone else mercy. And then mercy flows around us and we sing a new song.

Blessed are those who respond to mercy with mercy.

Kaze Gadway has worked with the emerging leaders of the Episcopal Church within the Native American community of Northern Arizona as a volunteer for eleven years. They are youth of promise from ages twelve to twenty-four. The Spirit Journey Youth is an outreach program of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona with forty young people. She is on Facebook and blogs at infaith’s posterous

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