Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Merciful Heart

Last Sunday I sat in a pew next to the image of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus. My proximity seemed deeply significant, and not only because I was wearing a veil. I did not mean to choose a word for the year, in fact I've never done it before. It is becoming increasingly clear that God has assigned me a word, and that word is MERCY.

A few days after Christmas a friend of my husband's came over to visit for the evening. We were talking about Christmas gifts. He bought his girlfriend a compound bow for Christmas and she's been practicing archery shooting hay bales behind their apartment complex for the sheer joy of it. He asked me, "so did you get anything cool, anything that you really wanted for Christmas?" I had to admit that I hadn't, but to myself all I could think was, "I don't think anyone knows me well enough to get me something that I really want." Physically I am often alone, but true loneliness comes from being emotionally stranded on your own desert island. A lack of intimacy is a great poverty.
"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me"- Psalm 50:23
Last week I thanked God for my constant loneliness as I asked Him to show me a purpose for it. What immediately came to mind was that in bearing loneliness myself, I can see and understand the loneliness of others. Yesterday I typed #beautiful into Instagram and what came up were mostly selfies. Women trying to look beautiful or sexy and men trying to look physically handsome. All looking into the camera with begging eyes, adding hash tags in the hope that someone would look at them and really see. Inside the beauty, what I saw was thick, sticky and desperate loneliness in the guise of self confidence and assurance. I felt my heart go out to these people who are lonely in the midst of a crowd like I am, and thought of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the image of Divine Mercy. Jesus is just waiting to bathe each of us in a shower of mercy and true love. Our bodies are made to be gifts to one another, but often I have found myself looking pleadingly for other people to be a gift to me. As long as we are all looking inward, we cannot provide the mercy of understanding to  the people around us who are so desperate to be seen. I hope that God will give me the grace this year to see others as Jesus sees them, really see the person and not just the front that everything is okay.

An added facet to that is that I have to be authentically myself in my marriage and be merciful to my husband in those moments in which my authentic self is rejected. I have to show him the love and mercy of Christ always, as I can imagine Jesus looking upon my husband and imploring him to open his eyes and accept grace.
"Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings 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. May Your mercy, O Lord,  rest upon me." Divine Mercy in My Soul, 163.

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