WHAT IS MERCY?
As we journey through this Lenten season, we have been reflecting on this call for us to return to the Father. Why would we want to do that? What is the incentive or the reason for us to change our ways and trust God? I think it is because of mercy.
Another word for mercy is love. God calls us back to Him during this special season because He knows what is best for us—He calls us back so that He can love us—and this love totally changes our lives. God’s mercy heals, comforts, transforms and empowers us to be most fully human, most fully who we are supposed to be. Yet we so often look for that unconditional love in so many other places that end in despair, sadness and disappointment. God’s mercy gives us everything we need.
The first step of sharing mercy in our daily lives is that we need to be able to receive God’s love. That is why Lent is such a special season that we need each year. Lent calls us back to the mountain top experiences of mercy that softens our hearts and fills us up so much that we overflow with grace, light, hope and joy. How can we receive mercy?
(1) PERSONAL PRAYER
We hear this again and again during Lent but it is key for us. We need to take time to pray so that we can listen to God’s voice hearing Him tell us that He loves us, forgives us and sends us out to share His joy to the ends of the earth. Prayer is not easy but with time we can master the opportunity to quiet or hearts and lives to encounter the mercy of the Father.
(2) SACRAMENT OF PEACE
This is another word for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Celebrating this sacrament allows God into the mess of our lives. This sacrament of humility reminds us that we are not perfect and we need God—We cannot do things on our own. Without God we are nothing. Although getting to this sacrament is challenging during the pandemic, we can arrange opportunities to allow God into our hearts and immediately receive the mercy we long for—the freedom and forgiveness of our sins.
One of the greatest challenges during the pandemic has been staying connected with people. We are made to be in community and we need to support one another. Through our encounters (as different as they may be during the pandemic) we can truly experience mercy, grace and love. God works through you and me seeking His love and light within our family, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we experience mercy through our prayer, the sacraments and our relationships with others, we are filled up with grace—even overflowing!! We inherently then need to share that mercy so that it may continue to grow in our own hearts but so that others may be moved by our generosity, support and care. Sharing mercy completes the experience of receiving it. We cannot keep it for ourselves but must share that joy with others. How can we do this today?
As faithful and loving disciples, we are called to service. This is the heart of being a follower of Jesus. We must seek out those who are lost, forgotten or in need and help them encounter Christ. We do this through true service for the sake of others. This is not simply a mechanical transaction of physical service or financial contribution. Our service needs us to encounter people in need and see Christ in them. Too often our service for those in need is disconnected. When we have the opportunity to get to know people we often don’t and think our actions to be enough.
I know that we cannot know everyone whom we serve or help but we need to make sure that when the chance arises, that we encounter the people we support realizing that they are no different than any of us. We need to be sure that our service has the human dimension of community and relationship.
(2) BE PART OF THE STORY
One of the dangers of us sharing mercy is that we can get caught up in feeling good rather than seeking opportunities to share the Good News. We need to understand that we are a part of the story of salvation and not the centre of it. Christ is at the heart of mercy and we are reflections or rays of that love. We need to be sure that we remain humble, open and generous so that others may see Christ in what we say or do.
(3) GIVE EVERYTHING
Another challenge that arises when we seek to share God’s mercy is that we usually give out of that which is left over. We take care of ourselves first and then share what is left. We do this with our money, possessions and our time. To truly share God’s mercy we need to give away everything to those in need forgoing our own wants and needs for the sake of those who are in need. This doesn’t mean you empty your bank account and sell all your possessions—we need to give away our hearts fully to the Gospel allowing who we are and what we have to make this world a better place.
So often we can become judgmental of those who are in need that we fail to give away or share our possessions and our lives with those around us.
Being thankful for God’s grace and celebrating with joy the gift of our lives and sharing that joy with others allows us to be truly thankful. We need grateful hearts for the Lord’s mercy and in response, offer gratitude, hope and love to those around us—seeking out those who are in most need of God’s embrace. May we always be thankful to be disciples!