Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36
A homily given on New Year’s Day reminded me of my resolution - yes, already on Day 1, I needed the reminder! - to read St. Faustina’s “Prayer to be Merciful “(Diary 163) every day. A promise to actually be more merciful is way too vague for me to be effective. I do want this Jubilee Year of Mercy to make a real difference in me, in my life, and in some small way, the world around me.
A copy of this prayer, cut out of a long ago St. Laurence bulletin, has been in my Bible looking at me for years. It spoke to me deeply when I first read it. Now it’s time to let it work its way into me.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.
Guilty from the get go! Judging from appearances is what we naturally do – OK, let’s get personal – it’s what I do. Never mind that the Lord has shown me over and over that what I see is only partial truth at best. It’s so easy to label someone as shallow, grumpy, arrogant, lazy, immature, self-centered, the list goes on – when the person inside is in pain, tired, lonely, anxious, confused. How often do I come across as the real me? We judge what we most dislike in ourselves. We also look for what we seek. And so, Lord, please help me look instead for the good in my neighbor and to take the time to let it become visible to me before I go judging.
And God, how can I rescue anyone, when I have so much trouble taking care of myself? That’s where you come in Lord. I trust that whatever I can offer – in the way of a smile, a kind word, an offer to help at that moment in some small way – will become what you want it to be.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
O God, there are so many sorrows to hear that I protect myself with spiritual (and maybe real) headphones. Truly, my mind can take only so much grief and trial, and then I retreat to my cocoon. But you are there as well. Please help me remain open to hearing others’ words, and the feelings behind the words. Help me to respond to your promptings. And remind me that showing mercy to the person in front of me is an antidote to part of the world’s larger sufferings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Dear Lord, you know the temptation this is. To criticize another is the quickest, yet least satisfying, way to make me feel better about myself. Please help me resist the urge to say anything that adds no benefit, builds no one up, that is untrue, causes pain or will lead someone else to fall into gossip or negative speech as well. If nothing else Lord, remind me of Thumper: “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
O Lord, please help me use what you have given me in time, talent and resources to cheerfully be of help, to pay it forward, to perform acts of kindness. But God, this last part kind of comes across as an application for being “a martyr” or a doormat. Still, whether at home or at work, it is an act of mercy to voluntarily do what needs to be done if I can do it, and if it would be a greater burden on someone else. (Just so long as I don’t complain about it!) This doesn’t mean I must never say “no” or shouldn’t ask for help – it’s a choice I have. If I choose to serve, let me remember that it’s in order to be more like you.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.
Ditto the above. You know Lord that I am tired after work, the commute, doing laundry, whatever... But as I say that, I realize too that my fatigue may partially be from spending my spare time in what is not truly rest or recreation. I remember that spending time with your Word refreshes me. And I have been happily worn out at times in works of service with and for my brothers and sisters in Christ! Please help me Lord, this year, to choose to spend more of my time with you and helping my neighbor – knowing that, as Mother Teresa says, my neighbor is also present in my own home and family.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the suffering of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence.
Lord, too many I know bear their suffering in silence when they should share it with those who love them and want to help. But for me, this goes back to developing merciful eyes and ears. I am so often clueless in my own bubble. Help me Lord to risk opening myself, my heart, to someone in need and meeting you there.
Finally O Lord you challenge me that extra step! It’s one thing to be merciful to those who deserve it, who are innocent and vulnerable. But to those who make bad choices, who refuse to be grateful, who hurt others or ignore them over and over again? And who is that – but me… I abuse your kindness, I am ungrateful, I make bad choices, I turn a blind eye over and over. And yet you feel my suffering deeply and are always there for me. Dear God, may my awareness and appreciation for your abundant mercy make me a more merciful person.
Please help me realize the joy and peace that being merciful can bring to my life. Thank you Lord!
May your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me. Amen.
Jesus, I trust in you!
Lynn Wells is a St. Laurence parishioner and spiritual director.