The quote at the end of today’s mass readings was by St. Francis Xavier: Speak to them of the great mercy of God… Sometimes people are helped by your telling of your own lamentable past. I often wonder why I live my story out loud like this – perhaps a part of it lies within that quote. By telling my own story, I hope that I give strength and courage to someone who needs it.
Psalm 1 speaks of people who take their delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on the holy law day and night. These people are like trees planted by streams of water which yield their fruit in its proper season and their leaves do not wither. The one who can withstand a lamenting, may be like that tree. We can meditate on the holy law and be nourished by the water that feeds us. Our leaves do not wither; our strength does not falter. In the First Reading from Galatians 5 the fruit of the Spirit is listed as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live in the Spirit and are guided by that same Spirit we can meditate on the holy law and bear such fruit. From this fruit, we can speak of the great glory and mercy of God and tell our own sad stories in order to bear up those who may also suffer from similar situations.
Most of us do not know what resides in the hearts of those around us. We have no idea what someone else can be experiencing. Looks can be deceiving. I am part of a closed group on Facebook for my type of cancer. On Thanksgiving Day someone posted the passing of one of the members of the group. It shocked people because four months ago that person had looked great – perhaps hardly sick at all. This cancer is aggressive and relentless. I could not help but think a friend of mine who passed away a few years ago. I brought her the Eucharist on a weekly basis each Saturday. When I left one Saturday I never suspected that I would not see her the following week. I had no idea that she was so close to death. Part of the lamentable story is the ongoing reminder that life is fragile – we never know when we will be moving on. For me, knowing that I belong to God and will return to my Creator brings me great peace. I acknowledge that not everyone around me believes this but for me it is what allows me to be somewhat free of this life. That is not to say that I am ready yet to leave this place and go to the next, but I am not afraid to die.
The mercy of God is at the centre of my trust. There is no leaving this world without breaking some hearts, but I believe that God will uphold the ones that I love in order for them to carry on loving life and living fully. I also believe that this mercy extends to me and that I will be forgiven for all those moments when I continue to still sin. I heard myself say something today that was negative about someone that I do not really have a quarrel with. I am not sure why I even said it. It was not relevant in some ways to the conversation I was having. As soon as I said it, I wondered why I had. As I did my nightly Examen, I realize I am far from being filled with grace. As much as I would like to be the kind of person who is transformed before I die into a more saintly person, I must admit that my humanity is always before me. Somehow, ironically, that brings a smile to my face. I am reminded that God’s mercy is something that I will always need to seek, until I draw my last breath. That is a very good thing.
When was the last time you felt the mercy of God?
Is there a lamentable story from your past that would inspire someone?
Merciful God, fill me with the fruits of your Spirit so that I may live each day with these gifts in order to serve you better. Amen.