Mercy is a term that stirs my memory of family reunions when I was a child. Upon seeing me, my four cousins (who happened to be girls) would commence chasing me until they caught me and planted kisses on my cheeks until I yelled “mercy!” In other words, “I am trapped,” “I surrender,” “I give up!” I always felt embarrassed by the attention and was glad when they let go. The strange thing was I knew they loved me.
In a way, God’s mercy is a lot like the mercy from my example. While my cousins were playing with me because they loved me, many times in life I have felt trapped with no way out. Life can get messy, but God’s mercy offers us a way out. God comes in to help us out.
Current news is filled with many definitions of mercy but the definition that resonates with me the most is attributed to Jesuit Priest, Father James F. Keenan. He says that mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another. Think about that…to enter into the chaos of another! That means to step into someone’s messy life to offer love, support, prayer, whatever. To genuinely be there as someone who truly cares. Upon reflection I realized I could do that in my everyday life.
- I can be merciful to my family members, friends, and even strangers.
- Instead of being critical of my children for making the same mistake a thousand times, I can gently and lovingly step in to encourage and support them.
- Instead of entering in to the family bickering, I can calmly step in and bring the family out of it.
- Instead of seeing people’s differences, I can choose to focus on commonalities.
- Instead of cautiously watching someone suffering with a serious illness or disease, I can step in to the chaos and offer a few kind words, a prayer, or some other form of assistance.
You see, by looking at mercy as an opportunity to step in to someone else’s mess, we have been given a gift. This gift is a practical way for living the year of mercy. I believe that everyone suffers in some way, visible or not. My goal during the year of mercy, and beyond, is to look for someone each day that may be in need of love, support, and encouragement. I may not be able to solve their problems, but they will know there is someone who cares about them and is with them on their journey. It’s the Year of mercy and I choose to step into the mess!