πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν· ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς
Continually learn the meaning of “Mercy I desire, not sacrifice,” I did not come to call those on the trail but those who have strayed from the trail. ~My translation of Matthew 9:13
There is fear – healthy sense of awe – when heading out on a trail. Staying on a trail is not easy. It requires some foreknowledge of the trail, a sense of direction, orienteering skills, concentration, and a dedication to see the trail through until the end – no matter how difficult the journey gets. Time is spent in preparation to get physically fit, study maps, and to gather gear. Weather conditions are monitored. Then, the day comes when you must go. Get out on the trail and stay on the trail.
Jesus wants us to know two things in that passage. First, life in relationship is not inward focused acts of piety. Life in relationship is outward focused acts of mercy and compassion. Second, Jesus came to call out to those who have wandered off the trail. Those of us already on the trail, Jesus expects us to stick to the trail. We have the responsibility to walk in the ways of mercy and compassion.
There is fear. Did I do enough, study enough, bring enough, monitor enough? The truth of it is, at some point, you must take the leap and go. You cannot spend your whole life just preparing. You must trust – go -and stick to the trail. Mercy. Compassion.
Life in relationship is wearing down a path through the bracken of this life. Life in relationship is knowing the way well enough to stick to the trail. Mercy and Compassion. Life in relationship is extending mercy and compassion to others along their trail.