We pause today from our look at the Corporal Works of Mercy to look at how the Holy Spirit empowers us to show mercy. In complete honesty, it is truly God’s providence that I am able to share with you my experience of being empowered by the Holy Spirit to show mercy. It is not beyond me that my experience of feeling not only the Holy Spirit, but all three persons of the trinity at work in my life occured around Pentecost Sunday and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. In the last few weeks, I encountered each of the three God heads in authentic, real and raw ways. I cannot recall a time in my life when I have recognized each, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so present in my life.
The Gospel this Sunday for the Feast of the Holy Trinity is from the Gospel of John, chapter 16. I was immediately struck by the astounding truth in Christ’s message to his disciples, “I have much to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” As I reflect back on the journey that I have walked during this Easter season, I am overwhelmed by the idea that Christ knew the transforming power of His love; He knew the power that His truth holds for us, so much so that He knew to forewarn us, it is a lot to handle.
Encountering the Trinity:
The first of a series of movements occurred early one Sunday morning a month ago. Stunned by several reality checks, the wind was knocked out of my sails as I came face to face with my deepest desires rubbing up against my deepest fears. Recognizing my typical M.O. for moments such as this, I fought my natural instinct to cut and run. Run from God. Run from reality. Run away from grace and into sin. Rather than making an about face, I leaned harder into prayer. I begged God to illumine for me what He was saying to me in this. Isn’t this mercy itself? God not letting me run away. God coming after me even when I am trying to run as far away as possible.
Over the course of the following days, God was faithful. God met me each time I came to Him in prayer. In one of my thin spaces, adoration, His precious son, Jesus, revealed He was with me in my suffering. In the Gospels, Christ reminded me to come to Him with my petition, that what I asked of the Father in His name would be granted. In the words of holy men and women who walked with me through this, the Holy Spirit comforted me, delivered me moment to moment with the peace that I so needed to endure. Each an encounter with God’s mercy.
Endure. Be still. Stay in it for as long as God holds you there. Endurance is the message I received in this passage from John. What I had hoped, prayed, begged would pass quickly, overstayed its welcome. Day after day, a trap set before me by the evil one only to be destroyed by the Spirit of Truth. The evil one said, “You’re alone.” But God through the Holy Spirit said in reply, “I am with you always until the end of the world.” The evil one said, “You’re unworthy.” But God said in reply, “Behold, I make all things new.” Finally, the evil one said, “You are cast aside, rejected, overlooked.” And my God said in reply, “Peace be with you. As the Father as sent me, so I send you.”
Each day a new stone placed in my path, and each day just that stone was moved away by the three persons of the Trinity. God meeting me in prayer. Jesus reminding me to ask him for what I need. The Spirit embracing me with God’s promises and peace. God showered mercy upon me, which enabled me to show mercy to myself. I understand what it was like for the disciples and apostles to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives and how this gift sent them forth.
Empowered to show mercy:
As I look back the experiences with God in the three persons of the Trinity, a new movement has begun to occur. Examining the places where my love for God has increased, I realize an invitation is present. An invitation to show mercy to self and others while bearing in mind that mercy manifests itself in concrete ways according to the needs of the person receiving it.
Towards self, I have had to be patient, allowing myself to stumble at times, knowing that I would be met in that moment by my loving and ever present God. Concrete acts of mercy towards others has been an invitation to understand them, accept them, relieve them of their burdens if only for a moment. More profound than I could imagine, healing comes in this experiences of turning outward, seeing the needs of the people present in my life and allowing the Holy Spirit to animate mercy towards them. Knowing and living the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy allows us to recognize these real human needs. Putting these into action gives us the experience of bringing God to the people we meet, and for me revealing a breathtaking connectedness to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
How is the Spirit animating mercy through you?
- How have you noticed the Trinity working in your life?
- How has this encounter readied you to show mercy to others?
- Where do you feel the Spirit is sending you today?
- Which Corporal Work of Mercy or Spiritual Work of Mercy do you feel most drawn to today?
A few other helpful resources: