Scripture Reflection . . .
The title, Mercy Requires Courage, is from a recent event that was held at the Vatican on March 8th, International Women’s Day, sponsored by Voices of Faith. It is also an appropriate description of the Scripture Readings for this, the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
The origin of the word “courage” is from the Latin, “cor,” meaning heart. The heart is often considered the seat of our feelings. Looked at in this light, mercy requires being attuned to our heart, our feelings. In this way it connects us to others; I am so aware of my heart that I become sensitive to the heart and feelings of others. There is compassion and empathy. All necessary ingredients for mercy.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul, declares, “I continue my pursuit in hope . . . toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8 – 14). He has the courage because “of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” St. Paul has experienced the mercy of God and it has changed his heart, given him courage to be merciful in the midst of struggle.
In the Gospel we observe the incredible courage and mercy of Jesus when a woman accused of adultery is brought before him and the Pharisees proclaim what the law commands (John 8:1-11). They seek to test him so they can bring charges against him. It appears the situation is more about catching and condemning Jesus rather that being about and adulterous woman.
Jesus has courage in the face of opposition. He listens to his heart and the hearts of those around him and thus has mercy on the woman at the risk of his own safety.
The Readings might also give rise to title, “Mercy gives courage.” The First Reading from Isaiah (43:16-21) tells the story of God’s salvation, God’s mercy towards His people: opening a way through the sea, bringing something new, giving water in the desert . . . Over and over in history God declares His love and mercy. And we are filled with courage: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126).
In Our Lives as Sisters of The Holy Redeemer . . .
We welcomed 8 Students from Michigan State University who chose to give a week of service during their Spring Break. The fact that they chose to do this over all the other options that a week off of school offers speaks of mercy and courage. In doing so they touched the lives of women, children, adults with disabilities, and the elderly throughout Philadelphia! And we certainly enjoyed their presence.
Our Postulant, Petra, participated in the panel during Voices of Faith event at the Vatican on March 8th, sharing on the role of women in the Church. Many of us were able to watch the event via live streaming. It was an experience of stories of heart – of courage and mercy – from around the world that connected us.
Sisters on our General Leadership Team from Germany, America and Tanzania met in Germany for their quarterly meeting. While we can often form an visual (and visceral) image of meetings, a deeper look reveals women of courage gathered together to discern the Spirit’s guidance as they seeks ways of sharing God’s mercy in community and those whom we are called to serve.
Gardeners returned to the garden to prepare for Spring planting. Once again we experience the Paschal mystery as the “dead” winter earth gives way to new life. We experience the courage of creation to burst forth in self-gift. In creation we can behold the God of mercy and love.
In Your Life . . .
From the Voices of Faith event on March 8th, one woman, Cecilia, from the Philippines, shared her story of being a political prisoner for four years under the Marcos dictatorship, and how it moved her to help women who are victims of human trafficking. With deep honesty she shared how it was extremely difficult to have mercy on those who tormented her and those who enslave other human beings. She shared how she has learned to forgive and how she has found healing and freedom. She witnesses to a heart, to the courage that leads to mercy. Hear more of her story and that of others at Voices of Faith.
Can you recall a time in your life when mercy required courage?
Is there an area in your life in which you desire courage and mercy?
Seek, knock, pray . . . and the door will be opened; your heart will be opened.
Blessings on you and your week!