[ by Charles Cameron — Scott Warren faces justice for providing water to migrants in the desert — surely, an act of mercy on his part ]
The ceremony for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II included the words:
Be so merciful
that you be not too remiss,
so execute justice
that you forget not mercy.
This derives, if from no other source, from the consecration of a bishop as ordained in the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549:
Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf; feed them, devour them not. Hold up the weak, heal the sick, bind together the broken, bring again the outcasts, seek the lost : Be so merciful that you be not too remiss, so minister discipline, that ye forget not mercy, that when the chief Shepherd shall come, ye may receive the immarcessible Crown of glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is background.
The BCP’s so minister discipline and the Coronation rite’s so execute justice are set against mercy, a juxtaposition that we may also note in classical Kabbalah, where the Sephirotic Tree features two matching pillars, one on either side — those of Justice (Din) and Mercy (Hesed), whose balance is illuminated in the central pillar and the sephirah of Beauty (Tipheret.
It is also worth noting that in the Coronation rite, there are eight instances of the words just, justly and justice, and 28 instances of mercy and merciful, including the great appeal known as the Kyrie Eleison:
Lord have mercy upon us.
Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord have mercy upon us.
And although the notion of a Judgment Day is found in some strains of Judaism and is intrinsic to both Christianity and Islam, no-one prays for the opposite — Lord, have judgment upon us — .
All this has been background.
Justice and mercy in action:
Hey, justice as context:
Four aid workers were convicted Friday on charges connected to their efforts to leave food and water for migrants in an Arizona wildlife refuge along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The volunteers, who are members of the faith-based humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, were caught on Aug. 13, 2017, by a Federal Wildlife officer as they left water jugs, beans and other supplies for migrants in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which shares a 50-mile border with Mexico. No More Deaths claims that 155 migrants have died in the refuge since 2001, and that the organization aims to save lives by providing basic supplies.
And to set beside that, more memorable context:
A six-year-old girl from India died of heat stroke in an Arizona desert after her mother left her with other migrants to go in search of water, a medical examiner and U.S. Border Patrol said on Friday.
And with all that in background and as context:
Scott Warren faced judgment and mercy:
Eight jurors believed Warren was innocent on all counts. Four believed he was guilty. .. The judge asked the jurors if they all believed that further deliberation would fail to yield a unanimous decision. On that point, they were all in agreement: The jury was hung.
That suggests a ratio of mercy to justice of two to one.
There’s a saying of Jesus recorded in the gospels:
Judge not, that ye be not judged
I’ve searched in vain, but in neither Testament do I find it written:
Be not merciful, lest ye receive mercy..
And Shakespeare tells us plainly:
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.