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“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet.”
—Mother Teresa

IN HIS BOOK “THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY,” PUBLISHED DURING THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY IN THE CHURCH, POPE FRANCIS WRITES, “I hope that the Jubilee will serve to reveal the Church’s deeply maternal and merciful side, a Church that goes forth toward those who are ‘wounded,’ who are in need of an attentive ear, understanding, forgiveness, and love.” He encourages leaders to build a Church that is like a “field hospital,” meeting people where they are and ministering to their wounds. Extending the call for mercy beyond the Jubilee Year, the Pope refers to the era we are living in as a kairos, which is a Greek word meaning “opportune time.” Pope Francis says, “I believe that this is a time for mercy.”

 

Mercy in Our Midst

“His mercy is as welcome in time of distress as clouds of rain in time of drought.” —Sirach 35:26

The Christophers’ Leadership in Mercy initiative publishes short stories and reflections by a broad range of people about the influence that mercy has had on their lives and on the world around them.

Brother Benedict Janecko, O.S.B, a Benedictine brother for over fifty years at the Archabbey of St. Vincent in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, tells of how a visit to 91-year-old Loretta Schrum, who was ailing and near death, helped revive his “drooping spirit.” She asked for water and he provided it. Then she took his hand and wouldn’t let go. He writes, “The whole ritual reminded me of Matthew 25, ‘Whoever offers food, drink, clothing and visits to others in need shall inherit the kingdom.’” He concludes, “I stopped to minister to Loretta, but she really ministered to me.”

Martha Smolka of Holy Cross Parish in Youngwood, Pennsylvania, tells of how God spoke to her through nature. While on a five-day silent retreat, she swatted a June bug that flew at her head while in the chapel in prayer. The June bug landed on its back in the pew in front of her and struggled to return to its feet so it could fly away.

And so it did. Smolka saw this as God giving her a message about her own struggles. She knew that God was reminding her how similar she had been to this June bug, unable to move forward until she righted herself, which in her case meant allowing God to enter her life. And in a beautiful account, Jeff Daws tells of a trip he took with his wife to Philadelphia for a medical conference she was attending. It was February and Daws took in some sights on one particularly cold and windy day. He writes, “As I contemplated what to have for lunch, I noticed a homeless man sitting on top of a sidewalk-level grate trying to catch as much heat coming through the grate as possible.”

Daws entered a nearby establishment to order lunch, intent on getting the homeless man something to eat as well. He kept looking out the window to make sure the man didn’t leave, and a woman standing beside him noticed the man too. She asked if Daws would give him some money for her, and handed him $20. He crossed the street to approach the man with the meal and money in hand.

Daws writes, “I then gave him the food that I ordered for him, along with a large cup of coffee and the money that the woman had given to me for him. He proceeded to ask me what my name was and I told him ‘Jeff.’ He then said, ‘Jeff, I'm going to pray for you.’ I was immediately taken aback by his statement. I asked what his name was, and he told me it was ‘Gary.’ I said, ‘Gary, we're going to be praying for each other then.’ I then asked him to promise me that he would try to find a warm place for the night. He said it would be difficult but he would try. As I was leaving, I said, ‘God bless you, Gary,’ and he had a huge smile on his face.”

Daws later shared this story with his parish priest, who gave him a unique perspective on these events. In reflecting on the priest’s insights, Daws says, “In many cases, homeless people have very few possessions, and he gave two of them to me. He gave me his name (Gary) and his faith (by telling me that he was going to pray for me)… I am eternally grateful to [my parish priest] for allowing me to think of that encounter in a much, much different way.”

 

Suggestions for Practicing Mercy

(from the website Aleteia)

• Resist sarcasm; it is the antithesis of mercy.

• Do something kind and helpful for someone

who you don’t get along with, or who has

wronged you.

• Offer to run an errand (groceries, dry cleaning

pick-up, dog-walking) for a busy parent

or homebound person.

•Make a point to smile, greet or make conversation

with someone who is not in your everyday circle.

 

 

 

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