Year B – Fourth Sunday of Lent
“What charism has the Lord given me? How do I live this charism? Do I assume it with generosity, placing it at the service of all or have I perhaps neglected or forgotten it?” Pope Francis
How readily we are distracted! How easily it is to meander off from our purposeful vocations, so caught up in matters at hand we forget to pay attention to be faithful people of God!
And yet our God is faithful, and pours merciful love over us at all times, in all circumstances. The mercy witnessed in today’s readings from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and John’s Gospel show us yet again how powerful the charism of mercy is when it is embraced.
“To be merciful is to experience deep empathy and compassion for those who suffer, to respond to suffering and pain with acts of loving service and assistance (Uniquely His).” Our God’s mercy reaches so far in today’s Gospel as to see the pain of brokenness and sinfulness in the world and so love the world “that he gave his only Son.”
We are called, then, to offer such mercy ourselves in a world that clamors for healing and forgiveness, for empathy and understanding. We are called to cultivate empathy, notice who needs our grace-filled generosity of spirit. We are called to “get over ourselves” and offer, without cost or strings attached, mercy.
This raises important questions, indeed. It’s easy to be merciful to those we already know and love. But what about the people we don’t notice as much? In our headlines, on our social media, in the cubicle and office and store, around our tables and in our pews, who do we see who is suffering? Who do we see excluded? Left out? Whose voices are not heard? Whose lives are unseen? Whose lives are pained and broken?
And how do we, as a people of mercy and kindness, harness the spiritual gift of mercy to alleviate suffering? What can be done today to offer myself as a beacon of hope through merciful, generous action and presence in the world? What kindness can be extended? What invitation might be offered?
How can our parish family extend merciful love? How will we live this charism, as individuals and as the Body of Christ?