As a young boy growing up with brothers and other friends in the neighborhood there was a lot of wrestling. A lot of wrestling and roughhousing.
If my brother, my older brother, ever got me in a hold or something where I couldn’t possibly get out and he could do just about anything he wanted to me at that point and time there was a code word that was understood.
Mercy simply meant you could do anything you want to me right now, inflict any sort of pain and I’m totally vulnerable and helpless to it. Mercy meant “please don’t do what you could do.”
A similar prayer has been sung in the church for centuries. A plea for mercy. It cries out to God, on account of Christ, that God would not do what he can always do or would rightly be able to do to us. It pleas “Lord have mercy.”
It’s called the Kyrie and we pray it to God the Father asking him not to penalize us, not to punish us according to our sins. It looks back at the grace God has shown to us in the service forgiving us all our sins and it says continue God to do this very thing. To punish and to prosecute our sins away from us and upon your son whom you sent to suffer that penalty in our place.
What a loaded prayer. I’m not sure we could spend our breath on anything more vital than that. Lord have mercy upon us, amen.