St. Sava Orthodox Church

21st Sunday After Pentecost: What Is Mercy?

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Scripture Readings

Galatians 2:16-20

Luke 16:19-31


In movies, TV shows, music, and video games, no one ever talks about mercy. It seems like the only time we hear about mercy is when we come to Church.  But what is mercy?  Is it just a word that we use at Church, and then we forget about it?

Mercy is seeing what another person needs—food, drink, clothes, medicine, patience, forgiveness, kindness—and giving it to them whether they ask for it or not. Every day God shows us mercy by giving us all of these things.  He has shown us mercy most especially by sending us His Only Son to become man for us, so that we can become the people He wants us to be.

The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a sad story about a man who has a chance to show mercy but does not. In the story, the rich man wears expensive clothes, has fine things, and eats large delicious meals every single day.  Lazarus, on the other hand, is homeless, covered in sores, and waits every day at the rich man’s gate, hoping to have the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.  But the rich man pays no attention to Lazarus.  His dogs show more mercy to Lazarus than he does, coming to lick Lazarus’ sores so that he will heal.  When both men die, Lazarus is carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, but the rich man is buried and suffers in flames.

In his life, the rich man had several opportunities to show mercy to Lazarus. He could have brought Lazarus into his home and sent for a doctor to help him.  If he couldn’t afford that, He could have sent meals to Lazarus where he sat at the gate every day.  He could have invited him to the table, given him new clothes, or a place to rest.  Sadly, because the rich man shows no mercy, we don’t even know his name.

God has mercy on us so that we can have mercy on the people in our lives. It doesn’t matter if we think they deserve it or not.  Our Lord shows mercy to good people and bad people alike.  If we want to be more like Him, we must also have mercy on others.



  1. How can you show mercy to someone who is needy if you don’t have any money?
  2. How can you show mercy to people who aren’t nice to you?
  3. What can you do if you had a chance to show mercy to someone, but you didn’t do it?
  4. Name three easy ways of showing mercy to people.