BARROW: Reflecting on the Gift of Mercy for Lent
February 22, 2022
(Photo by James Ramos/Herald)
Mercy is a gift, and it is my theme for the upcoming season of Lent.
Like the other liturgical seasons, Lent is a celebration of mercy, but it has a very unique movement. With Ash Wednesday, we are moving toward the ultimate example of God’s mercy through the act of divine love. The road to Calvary and everything leading up to the scourging, crucifixion, and death of Jesus should be seen as an act of mercy, culminating with the beauty of the Resurrection.
It could be said that sacred Scripture is the revelation of mercy. From Genesis (creation) to Revelation (salvation), we find divine mercy rooted in love and is God’s way of disclosing who He is to the world and who we are to Him. Not just Christians. His mercy is for everyone. Yet, it is the responsibility of the Christian to participate in the Mercy of God as recipient and sharer.
An important question for me as I approach Lent is how do I exhibit the proper attitude toward mercy, and am I open to receiving it from God and sharing it with others?
In His revelations to St. Faustina, our Lord Jesus Christ asked for special prayer and meditation on His Passion each afternoon at the three o’clock hour, the hour that recalls His death on the cross and rightly called the Hour of Mercy.
Our merciful God, the author of humanity, entered humanity as love to redeem it. All of it. The season of Lent is a time for you and me to enter more deeply into the gift of mercy by being open (ephphatha) to receiving it and sharing it with others. Every prayer, gesture (especially the sign of the cross), word and deed should be a reflection of God’s mercy on the world with our neighbor and should remind us that, without it, we fall short of living out our Baptism.
The world may suggest that mercy is simply responding to the needs of others. Rightly so. In fact, Holy Mother Church lists Corporal (bodily needs of our neighbor) and Spiritual Works of Mercy, rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the most fruitful way to participate in these works is to first acknowledge their source. Mercy is not simply a construct of human origin and good actions toward others.
It is first a movement of God toward us, toward our brokenness, and the invitation to move toward Him with others.
This gift of mercy is not reserved for sharing within my circle of fellow believers; it is also meant for us to “Go forth to love and serve the Lord” by bringing it with us off parish grounds. While driving, working, shopping; habitual mercy should be exhibited in our daily lives.
As I have meditated on the subject of mercy, I cannot find any part of our faith lacking its presence. The highest form of prayer in the Church, the Mass, is a celebration of mercy, the Sacraments are proof of it, and our lives must reflect it.
I desire to be more merciful this Lent and ask that you join me. If the Divine Mercy Chaplet is not part of your daily prayers, join me during the season of Lent in this beautiful prayer. If your time and schedule do not permit you to pray the chaplet, how about setting a reminder on your phone or calendar for a brief pause in silence at 3 p.m. and thanking God for His mercy and how we may share mercy with others. Call it Mercy Moments.
Conclude the Mercy Moment by reciting: “Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” May the Season of Lent lead all of us to the mercy seat of God, and remember that it is a gift.
Doris Barrow III serves as the director of Campus Ministry for Texas Southern University.