Jesus, I feel within me
A great desire to please you
But, at the same time
I feel totally incapable of doing this
Without your special light and help,
Which I can expect only from you.
Accomplish your will within me—
Even in spite of me.
~St. Claude La Colombiere, SJ
Jesus makes it clear to his disciples’ that they are to carry on his message of mercy. Empowered with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples courageously did just that. In the readings this Easter Seaon from the Acts of The Apostles, we see not only the numbers of believers growing, but also beautiful acts of mercy occurring— people being healed, resources being shared, compassionate kindness being shown to the entire community. The disciples were not Jesus. They were ordinary people, just like me and you.
Spreading mercy is not just for Jesus or his disciples or the Pope or the Saints or the priests or religious brothers and sisters. We are urgently and adamantly called to this task. We, too, are empowered with the gift of the Holy Spirit who sends us forth, and calls us out of ourselves to encounter others.
Jesus and his disciples were not intimidated by the task of showing mercy. They did not cower away from a situation that seemed too large. They did not act as if the people who needed mercy lived far away. Instead, they showed mercy to their neighbors. The disciples understood that for Jesus’ message of mercy to continue that they had a vital role to play. Mercy endured through them.
We are no different. God’s mercy continues to endure through us.
Mercy received, mercy given:
The mercy we receive from God is not just to make us feel warm, cozy, forgiven, protected, healed and loved. (All good things by the way!) The mercy we receive by God empowers us to give mercy to others. This is the theme of the entire Jubilee Year of Mercy– Merciful Like Our Father. We are called to be merciful like Jesus.
How do we do this ?
My fear is that we often act as if the people who need mercy live far away from us. Or we are so overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation that we are too intimidated to act, fearing our small contribution to helping in a situation makes no difference. Not acting stops the spread of Jesus’ powerful message of mercy. In the opening prayer shared in this post, we can ask God for help to accomplish how we are called to show mercy to our neighbors.
Who is our neighbor, though? The one we tangibly encounter. The one we live with in our homes. The ones we interact with at work, at the grocery store, on the streets, at the dry cleaners, at the gas station. The one we socialize with and pray with. There are opportunities to be merciful multiple times a day.
We can show compassion. We can forgive. We can heal instead of hurt. We can help provide basic needs to others. We can love those who feel they are unlovable. We can go out of ourselves and see the needs of others and try to meet those needs.
This doesn’t mean we stay so isolated in our own worlds that we forget about the larger world, but it does mean we can do something to continue to spread Jesus’ message of mercy to others.
We are all receivers of God’s mercy. How will we, today, with the help of the Holy Spirit be the giver of mercy to someone else?
Want to Go Deeper?
- Notice who you encounter this week. What do you notice about their needs?
- What are you going to do, today, to spread Jesus’ message of mercy?
***In the next several weeks, we are going to walk through both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy so we can discern how we are called to be part of this mission of mercy. Each week, we will take one act of mercy and not only unpack it, but look at how we CAN do this in our daily life.