Lent of Mercy

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us…to shake us from our lethargy” (Pope Francis).

An amazing number of people fill Our Lady’s Chapel on Ash Wednesday. For so many of us it’s clearly an occasion to stop our everyday lives and reach out beyond ourselves.

What motivates us to come for this holy sign of ashes? Who calls us? How does this mark connect us?

This simple daub of ashes somehow penetrates our hearts and proclaims that we are on the journey of life together. God invites us to open our hearts to Him and to each other and to see our world with new eyes. And it’s a world that we cannot withhold, protect, or hoard for ourselves

Will our Lenten journey change us? Are we willing to die to selfishness, judgments, and harsh words and be open to resurrection and new life? How will we change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh? Will we let ourselves be moved to compassion and mercy?

Mercy is a way of seeing, a generosity of spirit that draws us to love. We cannot find or know God without bringing everybody else along with us.

Mercy, Pope Francis reminds us, is an encounter. It may be as simple as reaching out and saying hello to someone outside my circle of friends or as difficult as really listening to others and sensing the pain in their voices.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are encouraged to think through all the barriers we erect and converse with those who are different, stand in their shoes, and feel their skin.

By displaying the ashes on our foreheads we are saying confidently to one another that God is with us and He will give us the words and show us the way to bring the “crucified people down from the cross” into the new life of the Resurrected Lord.

Let us, then, be the mercy of God during this Lent.