Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Measure of Mercy

I don't know about you, but I have a difficult time comparing myself with others. It could be as vain as comparing my looks or my talents with others - or it could be a little deeper, like comparing myself with the amount of volunteer work or generosity of others. 
I think this comparison game plagues many of us, and social media has only plagued us with more blatant temptations for this. 

I often think to myself "I wish I had more energy so I could do X for more people." "I wish I had more money so I could give X to this person" "I wish I had more time so I could volunteer with Y." 

This morning I had a bit of an epiphany. It was like the Lord said "You have been given everything you need to show mercy in the way I desire.”

For some of us - that might mean a lot of activities - reaching many people, volunteering at a youth group, going on a mission trip. For others it might simply mean loving your husband and children by devoting your time, energy and love to them. Didn't have a chance to get your second cousin a birthday gift? Didn't get a chance to invite your pastor over for dinner? It's OK. 

For me I get caught up sometimes in discouragement from an inability to "do" things that I think (very likely) were not something I was needing to do in the first place. Surely - there are SO many ways we can get involved, we can bless people, we can give of ourselves. But don't measure your mercy in the ability to fulfill all of these things. Measure your Mercy in your faithfulness to love the people that God has put right in front of you. That doesn't have to be grandiose either. It could simply mean a smile, a listening ear, a hug. 

It is even MORE simple. Perhaps one of the deepest and fundamental calls is the call to show mercy to ourselves. Sometimes showing ourselves mercy is the HARDEST person to show mercy to. A wise priest at a retreat once said "We have to beg Christ for the Mercy to love ourselves." That has really stuck with me over the past decade. We need the mercy to love ourselves as Christ loves us - we are the Father's beloved creation.

We will find the ways He wants us to show mercy not by looking at what those around us are doing - not even by looking at the unrealistic standards or protocols we have devised for ourselves. We will only find these invitations by looking deeply into our Savior's merciful eyes. It is there He will reveal to us the mercy that we need to experience and the mercy that we need to share. 

"Let Jesus look at you. Place yourselves within the gaze of Jesus and welcome this gaze that looks at you peacefully and calmly, that loves you and sees your deepest identity. Jesus, who looks at us with hope and who, in looking at us, loves us, heals us, ad purifies us....Let us take these moments to look at Jesus with faith and most of all, to welcome his gaze and allow ourselves to be healed by it, to be healed of all of our discouragements, all the ways in which we feel guilty, our worries, maybe our shame. This gaze of Jesus can heal everything in us; it can purify and renew everything in our hearts." Fr. Jacques Philippe, Real Mercy.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

To shoulder the beams

I've been thinking a lot about the cross this Lent. Especially about how our own personal crosses are tied up into the mystery of the cross of Christ and how they are given to us, specifically and personally, to bring about our purification and sanctification. No one escapes the weight of a cross. Everyone, whether they appear to or not, is plagued with a cross, and sometimes many crosses. For some people, these crosses are crushingly heavy. Some, are not so much heavy, as lighter crosses that pinch us with splinters of annoyances every. single. day. 

Just when I thought I was rid of this cross!

It struck me today, how much of my attention I focus on alleviating myself of the weight or splinters of my crosses. I think about how great it will be to finally be healed of a health issue. I think of how I am going to improve my personal shortcomings that cause me frustration and discouragement. I think about not having to deal with difficult people. 

I think about being rid of pain. Being rid of hassle. Just getting to that one place around the bend when my cares could be cast aside in a more carefree life. 

I imagine a life when I have it all together. Seamless. Easy. 

Then of course, when the relief doesn't come; when the beams still weigh me down, when the splinters still prick and poke me, I think - wow. I must being doing something wrong. 

Still here. On my back. What?

Dear God. 

Suddenly it dawns on me. If I only spent as much energy striving to carry my crosses well; with a resigned and accepting heart as I do striving to alleviate them of dreaming of their resolution.

But the reality is, many crosses in our lives will be a persistent reality for the rest of our breaths. 

But it doesn't mean we are failing. It doesn't mean God is failing.

It means that we are still walking a long the road to Calvary; the road that leads to sanctification and eternal healing. 

We have another day to unite of sufferings to the Cross of Christ. To make His crucified Love present in the world, in the way that only we can do. 

We are all Simon. Taking that beam upon our shoulder. Making up for what is lacking. 


As long as we have breath.

We are afflicted. We are privileged. To shoulder the beams He bears.  


Wednesday, February 17, 2016 has begun

Well, Lent has started, and I feel as though this year, I am really going into the desert.

Before Lent began, I had this sense that God was saying,

"If He empties you, it is only so He can fill you more abundantly."

And so it began.

Have you ever felt like God was doing an excavation in your heart? That's what I feel like is happening to me this Lent. It's intense.

And you know what I want to say to God?

"Stop! Don't go there! We do not need to dig up that artifact! It was just fine in here until You came in. That dusty old thing that was crowding a corner in my heart? Just leave it there. I know, it's making me sneeze. That other rusty thing in front of me? Don't touch it. Just let it be. I know...I can't walk over it without tripping. But it's too heavy to move. And I'm used to seeing it sit there. Too much discombobulution, Lord. Stop digging. It hurts. Stop clearing. I don't want to be disturbed. JUST LEAVE IT."

But God loves me too much to just leave it. He is making space. He is tearing me down.

If He tears down, it is only to build me back up.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins...