Reflection: Merciful Like the Father

The “hot topic” in the Catholic world lately seems to be mercy--and rightly so, as the Jubilee Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, began on December 8, 2015. During this Year of Mercy, Catholics are called to reflect on how we live out our call to show mercy in imitation of the Father. We keep hearing about mercy, but what does it mean for us? In his Bull of Indiction declaring the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis says, “Mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action toward us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible.” Jesus Christ is concrete evidence of the Father’s mercy towards us. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, ate with sinners, and ultimately gave His life for the forgiveness of our sins. 

As a Service Corps volunteer living by the values of social justice and spirituality, I have a unique opportunity to live out this call to mercy this year and be a visible sign of God’s love. Some days that might mean providing for someone’s corporal needs--helping a client who is homeless find a place to live, or providing a referral to a food pantry. Some days it means providing for someone’s spiritual needs--simply sharing a laugh with a client or providing emotional support for a woman who has experienced domestic violence. Some days it might even mean learning to be merciful with myself--seeing myself and my successes and failures through the Father’s eyes as I navigate the challenges of a year of volunteer service.

Showing mercy in our every action is not an easy task. As humans, we are selfish. We hold grudges. We refuse to forgive. We have a hard time being generous. Maybe we think people “deserve” the situations or problems they have. But when we consider how absolutely merciful God is with us, how He gives all and forgives all to the point of sacrificing His own life, we realize how vital it is to practice showing mercy if we are to truly become like Christ. We certainly won’t become perfect overnight. But this week, go out of your way to show mercy to someone--smile at that annoying co-worker, or buy a few extra cans for the food pantry, or forgive someone who has wronged you. Next week, do two things, and the week after that, three things. Ask God to give you the grace to take the opportunities to show mercy and make the most of them, and before you know it, you’ll become a more merciful person!

-Amy Goudreau, CCSC Member 2015-201