God’s mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118: 2-4)
We use many images to describe the essence of the community of believers that we have come to call the Church. Perhaps the image that is most commonly used, and certainly the favorite of Pope Francis, is “people of God”. There’s a certain down-to-earth reality in that image, an implication that people, humanity, is what church is all about.
Today’s readings give us a wonderful kaleidoscope of what is best and what is worst in humanity: we are generous, needy, believing, doubting, bold and fearful. So it should not surprise us that the Sunday after we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus we are challenged to bring God’s mercy into every aspect of our lives, every relationship that we make or break.
Pope Francis speaks of “pastoral care in conversion” in Evangelii guadium. He described that conversion when speaking with the bishops of Brazil: “There is need therefore for a church that is capable of rediscovering the womb of mercy. Without mercy it is scarcely possible today to penetrate into a world of the ‘injured’ who need understanding, forgiveness, and love.” The Church is to be the place where all can feel welcomed and loved, pardoned, and challenged to live according to the Gospel.
As Precious Blood congregations, mercy should be our hallmark. Divine Mercy Sunday might be considered a common feast day for all of us. Our call is to be the street people of God, those who bring God’s mercy to the peripheries—to the bruised, forgotten, shunned, poor and despairing. And we do. Consider Precious Blood family members ministering to and with the LGBTQ community in California, the poor who come to the Center of Hope in Wichita, Kan., the many immigrants in St. Louis, the young men and families who come to the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago, those who seek help at the Brunner Literacy Center in Dayton, and the people who take a stand in behalf of our planet in Columbia, Pa.
Every day each of us is called to the periphery of human existence. Maybe we never leave our home and our sphere of influence seems miniscule. But what a powerful gift we give the world if all we ever do is pray with the psalmist: “God’s mercy endures forever.”
Sr. Barbara Jean Franklin, ASC