Bishop Hying

Allowing the mercy of God to flow in inspires us to be instruments of mercy to others

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on April 3, 2016   


      This Sunday, April 3, we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy within this Jubilee Year of Mercy. As Pope Francis has reminded us in many ways, mercy is at the very heart of the Christian mystery. Jesus comes to the rescue of fallen and lost humanity to save us from sin and death. Mercy is love in action or how a good and generous heart responds when confronted by misery and suffering.

      St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun of the 20th century, experienced visions of Jesus revealing his Divine Mercy to her. He calls all people to trust in the love of the Father, to embrace forgiveness and reconciliation, to leave sin and fear behind, to live the Good News of the Gospel as a new creation. How telling that St. Faustina received these messages just a few years before the outbreak of World War II, a global catastrophe of demonic inhumanity and unspeakable suffering. It is as if the Lord was preparing the world for what was to come, reminding us that only the path of justice, love and mercy can forge a true, lasting peace and a humane social order.

      How do we embrace this Divine Mercy in our lives? 

      In the sacraments, God pours the grace of his love and presence into our spirits, so the more we celebrate the Eucharist and reconciliation, the closer we come to the very Heart of God. Deep personal prayer, meditation on the Scriptures, praying the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, embracing silence and peace as we can throughout the day - such experiences help us to know and feel the love of God as a living and pulsating reality, that the Sacred Heart beats at the very center of the universe and we are part of that Mystical Body.

      We need to pray often for the vision of the saints who were able to literally see Christ in every person they encountered. Mercy allows us to pierce the veil that hides the radiant presence of the Lord in others.  Love helps us to look beyond the faults, weaknesses, poverty and unattractiveness in others that often keep us at a distance from them and to see only Christ.

      Such a spiritual view sounds easy but is often difficult in practice! How pleasant it is to associate with the beautiful, successful and popular people, the ones who agree with us or think we are wonderful or don’t make us uncomfortable. How difficult to truly love those who malign us behind our back, usually seem unpleasant and disagreeable or are simply uninteresting, those who seemingly have nothing to offer us, so that giving them attention and love will bring nothing back to us.

      These encounters are where mercy kicks into practice, where love exceeds what appears to be just, reasonable and appropriate. How do we practice mercy within our families? Often, we can show kindness to others outside, but then at home, the façade can drop and we let out all of our anger, indifference and resentment on the people we love the most because it seems safe; they “have” to take it. 

      Can we give our spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters another chance? A friend of mine recently wrote a letter to his brother from whom he has been estranged for years, simply asking for forgiveness and promising love and prayers. This Year of Mercy is the perfect time to heal broken relationships, especially within the family.

      Can we be merciful at work? We all seem to have a co-worker who gets on our nerves, wastes time, gossips or is actively hostile. Such folks are usually deeply wounded themselves, acting out their own inner pain and anger, inflicting it on others in some unconscious attempt to feel better. Do we have the courage to draw near their suffering, even at the risk of enduring some of the hurt? 

      This analogy may limp a little, but I think we Christians are called to be like water filters, absorbing the dirt and impurities of the world and becoming like overflowing fountains of love and goodness that quench the world’s terrible thirst for mercy and acceptance. I have never met a person who did not crave more love, attention, kindness and affirmation, which is another way of saying that everyone is looking for God, whether they know it or not. Can we be that life-giving fountain that waters the parched soil of humanity with mercy?

      Mercy comes down to little things. How we drive on I-65, thanking people for favors received, not insisting on our way, apologizing and admitting error and weakness, listening to people, even when it isn’t interesting, volunteering to serve the poor and sick, not complaining, giving money to charity, expressing joy in the face of adversity, bearing wrongs patiently, showing kindness to unlikeable people.  None of these things will win us applause and fame, but they will build up the Kingdom of God. When we let the mercy of God into our lives, we will know conversion and will increasingly become instruments of mercy in the lives of others, leading them to the Lord.  How beautiful to see the wonders of God’s goodness in motion all around us! 

      Thank you for the many ways you live out the mercy of the Father.

+ Donald J. Hying


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