Year of Mercy Reflection

Friday, Feb. 12, 2016

Editor’s note: During the Year of Mercy, the Intermountain Catholic will publish a short reflection each week written by a variety of Catholics in the Diocese of Salt Lake City: priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, Utah Catholic Schools teachers/principals, lay ecclesial ministers, religious education teachers and others. We hope you enjoy these, and that they give insight into the myriad ways mercy can be incorporated into everyday life.
After completing the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Program in 2014, I was soon given the opportunity to serve in pastoral care in a local hospital. I had just stepped away from 20 years as a medical service provider and part-time firefighter, so following some time in prayer, I felt pastoral care to be a natural progression for me; after all, I was no stranger to the hospital, having experienced traumas, emergencies and death in close proximity. 
Boy, was I mistaken that the transition would be easy! I struggled! Coming from a “fix-it” mentality to one of patience and compassion, I had to search Scripture for guidance. I found solace with many verses, but continually returned to Romans 10:8: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”
This Year of Mercy is an invitation to love and to express compassion, to reach beyond what is comfortable, and to examine our own strengths and weaknesses. I recall during a visit to a hospital in Assisi, Pope Francis said, “We are among the wounds of Jesus.” For me, to share another’s cross, even if for a brief moment, is certainly that very invitation to love; it is indeed the invitation to spend time among the wounds of Jesus.
Many patients I visit are Christian of some denomination, a few are Catholic, some claim to be “spiritual but not religious,” and many others are admitted non-believers. How, then, do I find a way to comfort people with such diverse beliefs? As diverse as they all may be, they all share the need for love and compassion, and for someone to share this painful time with them. In this Year of Mercy, I encourage you to reach out and let the Word be near you, in both your mouth and in your heart. 
Tom Devereux
St Mary Parish, West Haven

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