I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Entering into the chaos of others

Mercy (n): "The willingness to enter into the chaos of others" (Fr. James Keenan, SJ)

In the Catholic Church's Jubliee Year of Mercy, many people have spent time discussing, reading about, and taking part in acts of mercy and/or ways of mercy. I, too, have tried to delve into what mercy is all about through private reading and prayer as well as retreats, Bible studies, reflection nights, and service.

The definition of mercy written above was offered from fellow group members in various settings this year. And it is one of the most beautiful, true, and complete definitions I have yet to find. Everyone is in the midst of his/her own chaos, sometimes it's shared at a community level and at other times it's more personal. But the chaos is there. Always.

I found this to be particularly true this week in two instances that reminded me very clearly that we never see the ENTIRE picture of someone, even if we think we know him/her well.

The first instance occurred on the way back from the 8th grade Holocaust museum field trip on Wednesday. As the students had filled up all the back seats, another teacher and I found ourselves sitting in the front. I recently learned that this particular coworker's wife is pregnant, but there have been quite a few complications so far, and there had been even more troubles in the past. I will not go into the specific details of their efforts to have children (as that is private), I can tell you that I had absolutely no idea the amount of pain and struggle involved. Talk about chaos! As he told me his story, all I could do was listen and offer support through prayer. On the outside, he and his wife always seemed so strong and "with it," but on the inside they had clearly suffered greatly. It got me thinking about how many other people I interact with every day who may be going through something painful who need mercy and love in a special way - how can I be more merciful and loving in my daily interactions with students, parents, co-workers, friends, and people I encounter?

The second instance happened just yesterday while I was at the nursing home with my sister and friends to bring communion. Again, chaos: nurse stations, beeping, blaring televisions, screaming residents on the third floor... But by bringing communion, all of a sudden, we became part of that chaos, even if just for a few minutes with each person. The communion prayer and receiving were moments of mercy and calm in the midst of the noise and busyness. I couldn't help but think about Jesus and his constant mercy in the midst of people's daily lives, some days more hectic than others.

We all need mercy. And we all need to be conduits of God's mercy. For as it says in the Bible many times in many different ways, forgive so that you may be forgiven. Or, to put it another way, God has already forgiven us - He did this when He sent His only Son down to be sacrificed on the cross. Who, then, are we to withhold mercy from others?

The answer is, we're not.

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8

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