Year of Mercy Reflection

Friday, Apr. 08, 2016

Editor’s note: Each week during the Year of Mercy, the Intermountain Catholic will publish a short reflection 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.
When Pope Francis named this year a time for mercy, I had to think about the word. I had not used it much – it took me back to Catholic school days and litanies, when Sister explained that you asked Mary and the saints to “pray for us,” but it was Jesus and the Sacred Heart who would “have mercy on us.” 
In high school, I remember the word from “The Merchant of Venice,” when our assignment was to memorize Portia’s speech imploring for her beloved’s life: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven to the place beneath. …”
But it was the next line that stayed with me: “It is twice blessed. It blesses him who gives and him who receives.”  
An act of mercy is always a relationship, blessing and connecting two parties forever, because it IS a blessing, and blessings come from God. The acts I had done formed a trinity, a partnership – with the hungry person I fed, the homeless I helped, the person I taught, the sick neighbor my mom sent me to stay with, not buying something to give that money to the St. Vincent de Paul coat drive, going with my parents to wakes, and the moral imperative of thinking for yourself and doing the right thing when you were with a crowd (“just because all your friends jump off a bridge do you have to do that, too?”) – and with God, whom I was slowly getting to know. 
The simplicity of these acts of mercy is the best part of them, and we have the opportunity and capacity to work and bless with God every day when we do them, and carry each blessing in our hearts in living Jesus and the gospel wherever we find ourselves. 
“We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.” 
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
Sister Mary Ann Pajakowski CSC
Holy Cross Ministries

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