Sunday, March 6, 2016

Focusing on the Year of Mercy:

The Phrase that Makes God Weep


I have arthritis and need to wear braces on my hands to calm down flair ups. The supports limit my range of motion and make any task having to do with grip or dexterity all the more challenging. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I found myself in the produce section struggling to get a plastic bag opened for my celery. Trying to rub the top of the plastic to separate the thin sheets, I was becoming more and more frustrated. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a woman approaching me.

“Oh, I know how hard those bags are to get open,” she cheerfully said. I admit her chipper attitude just added to my aggravation. “I can help you with that” she offered kindly. “I got this” I said, focusing all the more intently on the task. She came closer. “No, let me help” she smiled.

Upset at the fact I was struggling and too proud to accept her assistance, I assured her I was capable of doing it myself. Nodding, she smiled and walked away. After a few more tries I finally got the bag open, put the celery in and continued my shopping. As I did began to think about the kindness offered and my refusal. I searched for the woman to apologize for my rudeness. I never did find her.

On the way home I replayed the scene over and over. I felt awful. I did need help in the store and someone, seeing my struggle, responded out of mercy. My pride stood in the way of accepting her offer of kindness. Upon further reflection, I began to think about all the times I have refused God’s mercy because I was too stubborn to admit I needed Him. I thought how sad God must be every time He watches me struggle, whether it be in small tasks or large life issues and as He sends angels or graces to help, my response is to say, “I can do this myself” and with hardened heart attempt, time after time, to do it my way.

While we may think the Year of Mercy is about us being merciful to others (and it is), we are also invited to reflect on how we receive mercy. We live in a culture that thrives on individualism and independence, but truth be told, we are the strongest when we learn to rely on God and each other. God knows our needs and sends others to us in times of weakness and trial. The virtue of humility is integral to our being able to accept another’s merciful assistance. It also allows them to live out their God-given mission as well.

As we continue to grow and understand the great gift of God’s Mercy, let us pray for the virtue of humility so that we may humbly accept God’s help when we need it!