Read the article ‘The March of mercy’ and answer the following questions. Then share your answers in pairs, small groups or in a classroom discussion.
1. After reading the article, look over the article again slowly. Do you recognise any of the leaders mentioned and what awful things they committed? As a class, have a discussion about some of the atrocities Brian Doyle mentions. Who are Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler and Osama bin Laden? What countries are they from? Why did they hurt people? Your teacher can answer these questions or supervise the class as they research online these names.
2. How do you understand the meaning of mercy? If someone is found guilty of a horrendous crime, how do we find it in our hearts to offer them mercy? How does the compassion of Jesus come into this?
3. How do we offer mercy to people who have wronged us or a member of our family? Do we really believe that ‘no one can be excluded from the mercy of God’? Explain.
4. Do you think the church should be a ‘hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints’? Why or why not?
1. King mercy, Queen forgiveness: Archbishop Desmond Tutu was Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa during the height of the Apartheid era (a time of racial segregation). After Nelson Mandela became president, Archbishop Tutu was one of the people who called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Research online what the Commission did and why he said, ‘there is a country beyond even justice, and in that country, mercy and forgiveness are king and queen.’
Then write a one-page reflection applying Archbishop Tutu’s quote to an issue needing more mercy in Australia today.
2. Justice or mercy? Watch the documentary Long Night’s Journey into Day*. This is an Australian documentary about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-Apartheid South Africa. Have a discussion after watching the movie. Do you think real mercy was shown to the perpetrators?
Why not have a class debate? Teachers can split the class into two. One side can argue that the perpetrators deserve justice and the other that they deserve mercy. This debate can be an informal or a formal debate where students are given time to research their position and prepare remarks.
For assistance on how to hold a classroom debate go to educationworld.com.
3. Mercy Wordle: St Paul of Tarsus said that love was the law. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and make a ‘Wordle’ document by posting the verses on either of the following websites: wordle.net, wordclouds.com, or worditout.com. Notice which word dominates your picture. Play with background and colours. When your class is complete, print out your pictures and put them around the classroom. Then as a class discuss what St Paul was saying.
For younger students
With younger children, the teacher would need to read the article and perhaps tell the students in much simpler language Brian Doyle's message.
Put the words ‘MERCY’ and ‘FORGIVENESS’ on the whiteboard. Ask students to write what they understand about those two terms. What do they want to know? What do they still need to understand? Do they think Jesus showed mercy and forgiveness? What Bible stories do they remember about mercy and forgiveness?
Students can then draw a symbol or a picture of their understanding of mercy. They must be able to explain to the rest of the class what their symbol or picture means.
Read 1 Corinthians 13 to the students and ask them to tell you what they understand by the statement from St Paul. They can write a prayer about love and how it changes their actions at home and in the classroom and playground.
*The documentary film Long Night’s Journey into Day can be purchased at California Newsreel.