A university student went for a walk one day with one of his professors. They were good friends and the student enjoyed talking with his wise professor. As they were walking along, they saw an old pair of boots on the side of the trail and assumed that they were abandoned. Soon they realized that a woodcutter was leaning on a tree taking a nap without his shoes.
The student, making sign for the teacher to be quiet, said in a low voice: – “Let’s play a joke on him; let’s hide his boots and hide behind those bushes to see his face when he doesn’t find them.”
– “My friend,” said the teacher, “we must never amuse ourselves by taking advantage of the poor. You come from a wealthy family and you can give this man some joy. Do an act of mercy and put a coin in each shoe and then we’ll hide to see how he reacts when he finds them.”
So, he did that and they both hid in the nearby bushes and made some noise to wake him up. The poor man woke up and went to put on his boots.
He slipped his foot into his boot and, of course, he felt something inside. He bent down to see what it was and found the coin. Stunned, he wondered what could have happened. He looked at the coin, turned it over and looked at it again. Then he looked around, but he saw no one.
He put it in his pocket and slipped his foot into the other boot and to his surprise he found the other coin. He was touched; he fell on his knees and looked up to heaven, made the sign of the cross and in a loud voice said a fervent prayer of thanksgiving to God, speaking of his sick wife and the great need of money that he currently had.
The student was deeply affected and his eyes filled with tears. – “Now,” said the professor, “aren’t you more pleased than if you had played a joke on him?” The young man replied: “Yes,” and he continued, “you have taught me a beautiful lesson I will never forget; you have taught me how beautiful it is to be merciful with others.”
I wanted to share this lovely story to confirm what Jesus says in one the Beatitudes: Blessed are the merciful (Mt 5:7). There are many reasons why being merciful makes us happy, blessed people. I would like to mention just one of them.
God is very happy being merciful and He wants us to experience that happiness. Jesus, in preaching that Beatitude is inviting us to experience that happiness. It is not as if He is unable to help people and needs us in order to help them. Rather, He, out mercy, has given us many things in order to share them with others. One has wisdom, another has money, another compassion, etc.; each one should share with his neighbors what each one has.
He wants to share His capacity of being merciful because, as St. Paul says, the happiness of giving is greater than the happiness of receiving. However, it is important to understand that in order to experience that happiness we must give out of mercy, rather than out of obligation, pretense, pride, or any other natural reason. It is also important to recognize the gifts of God, the gifts He has given us, because if we are not aware of what we have we will never be able to share it with others.