Sunday, April 1, 2012


But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, therefore, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)

Bilbo has just finished his encounter with Gollum, the strange creature that lives in the middle of the lake under the mountain. They fought each other, in the form of a battle of wits: the famous Riddle Game, which Bilbo wins by a fluke – how could Gollum know the contents of Bilbo's pockets, anyway? Fair or not, Gollum has promised to show Bilbo the way out of the Goblin tunnels, but before he does that, he returns to his island nest to get something. When his "precious" is not there, he begins to suspect that he does indeed know what's in Bilbo's pocketses, and he becomes angry and starts raving about what he will do to Bilbo when he catches him. Thinking that Bilbo already knew the way out and was tricking him all along, Gollum proceeds to unknowingly lead Bilbo to the back door and camps out at the tunnel entrance in hopes of catching the hobbit. Bilbo, wearing the magic ring and therefore invisible even to Gollum's excellent night vision, is confronted with a choice:

"Bilbo almost stopped breathing, and went stiff himself. He was desperate. He must get away, out of this horrible darkness, while he had any strength left. He must fight. He must stab the foul thing, put its eyes out, kill it. It meant to kill him. No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried to yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo's heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. All these thoughts passed in a flash of a second. He trembled. And then quite suddenly in another flash, as if lifted by a new strength and resolve, he leaped."

Bilbo could have put an end to a threat then and there, but such violence was not in the gentle hobbit's nature. Instead, he puts himself in Gollum's shoes and imagines how horrible it must be to live the way that Gollum does. He has mercy on the poor, wretched creature and jumps over him instead of killing him.

Do we do the same with the poor, wretched people we come across? Do we try to imagine what their lives are like and show them mercy, or do we judge them according to what we see on the outside? We should remember how we are shown mercy by God in our times of wretchedness. We should then resolve, like Bilbo, to take a leap of mercy; indeed, we should go even farther and instead of merely not hurting, we should do what we can to help.

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