An Inconvenient Mercy

This year has been named the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. A year where as a collective church we mediate on the greatness of God’s mercy and how it should move us to show mercy for others.

As I ponder mercy, memories rush to my mind. Waking up each morning with the gift of new mercies from God, times I have witnessed a friend extend mercy to someone in misfortune, or the frequent occurrence of my husband offering me mercy in the times I have wronged him. It seems to me, mercy is a word that describes a myriad of things. So to paraphrase Justin Bieber what does it mean?

“Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instilled in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”- Pope Francis

“the compassion in our hearts for another person’s misery, a compassion which drives us to do what we can to help him””- St. Thomas Aquinas

The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast. -Max Lucado

“There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world.” Thomas Merton

“Do you wish to commune with God in your mind? Strive to be merciful… A man should first of all begin to be merciful in the measure that our heavenly Father is merciful.” Isaac of Syria

Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy…. At times, we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives” – Pope Francis

“Sanctity is an interior disposition which makes us humble and little in God’s arms, conscious of our weakness and trusting even to audacity in the goodness of our Father.” St Terese of Lisieux
“Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” -Pope Francis
“Mercy heals in every way. It heals bodies, spirits, society, and history. It is the only force that can heal and save.” -Thomas Merton
“God’s mercy is a great light of love and tenderness.” -Pope Francis
These and many more beautiful definitions have been presented through time, but it seems that no one definition is all encompassing, rather each illuminates a different facet and application of mercy. So today, with the help of my daughter, I humbly put forward another definition.

The Salt Stories: Mercy and Inconvenience- mercy definition

Sometimes we need to search out mercy moments and other times they find us. One of these such occurrences is a typical Saturday morning with my almost two-year old daughter.

I am woken up in the wee hours of the morning to a sweet but shriek voice shouting, “maa maa.” Then pulling myself out of bed I go to greet the likely smiley girl. Our mornings typically begin with two questions. The first, “how was your sleep?”, is always answered with a smiley, “geed.” But with the second question, “are you wet?” I normally don’t get an answer, but rather have to use my sense of smell or touch to figure out if the diaper failed its main purpose. After seeing her sweet footie pajamas and sheets wet, I pull her out trying not to transfer the wet clothes on to myself. I begin stripping the bed, while Anna cheerfully dances around the room saying “ee ee”, asking to head to the kitchen and grab some food. There is a some protest as I require a diaper change first, but then we are off to make breakfast.

The first 10  minutes of my day are full of opportunities to be merciful. This example seems second nature at this point, but what about all of the other moments where I am inconvenienced?

I am sure others experience this type of morning in their own way, and it is an example of how the corporal acts of mercy are thrust upon us. And as a mama, these sleepy moments with Anna have helped me develop another working definition for mercy.

To show mercy is to be inconvenienced for another.

Now this definition is limited, but it helps me think about ways I can be merciful in my day.

Allowing a mom with a crying baby go ahead of me at the grocery store, choosing to drive a friend home even though they are out of the way, giving up a free Saturday to serve in a shelter, offering up time to talk with someone who is just looking for company, allowing my husband to sleep in on a Saturday morning, picking up trash that is not mine, lightening a colleagues load at work, the list can go on and on. These are all circumstances when my initial reaction would be to just see the inconvenience for me. But using this working definition, now my human reaction to realize the inconvenience can be a trigger to choose mercy.

So as we try to make mercy a part of our daily lives, let’s be inconvenienced for others, lets teach our children the value of inconvenience, lets recognizes when others extend this mercy to us, and lets try to turn these negative thoughts into holy ones.

When I was 17 years old the Litany of Humility was presented to me. I remember that I could not pray it fully on first reading. I had to put it down as I read the words that first time, because it was not where my heart was. I wanted to be chosen, acknowledged, and loved.

It took me a while to understand that this is a prayer for a type of humility that leads to mercy. It is not a prayer where we ask to be used as a doormat, but rather to be free from thought of self and toward the good of others. We are asking God to change the desires of our heart, hoping that we wake up saying how can I love instead of how will I be recognized today.

Here’s my quick summary, Let me so trust and rest in your love that I forget myself in order to find ways to make others feel loved.

See below for the full version. Pray with caution, you will be humbled.

 

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.(repeat after each line)

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

The Salt Stories: Litany of Humility... An Inconvenient Mercy

The Salt Stories: Litany of Humility 

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Comments

  1. Nicely, said, Amy. I had never looked at Mercy that way.

    Lord,
    Help me to not be afraid to give all I have to those in need, knowing that you provide for those who are merciful.

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