A blind man sits begging at the side of the road … unnoticed and ignored. As people pass, he overhears that Jesus will soon be passing by. The blind man gets excited and starts calling out for Jesus. People “shush” him and tell him to be quiet. This blind man has been ignored his entire life. However, when Jesus hears and responds to his desperate cry for mercy, everything changes. Suddenly, the blind man is important. The crowd begins to treat him with respect, he has value because Jesus sought him out of the crowd to help him and heal him.
What might life be like for others if we became the face of Jesus in the crowd? What does it mean to be merciful? How does Jesus call me to be merciful? How might somebody else’s life be transformed if I became the face of mercy? These are all questions we need to consider and take to Jesus in prayer. If we are called to be disciples of Jesus, then we need to take on the face of Jesus in whatever way he asks.
Two particular words come to mind when I think about mercy: compassion and transformation. When we show others compassion, just as Jesus does with us, we become the face of Jesus, allowing the lives of others to be transformed. One way to do this is by joining me in making a gift to the Bishop’s Appeal.
The theme for the 2016 Bishop’s Appeal is Faces of God’s Mercy. It is through the Appeal that our diocesan ministries and services are able to reach out and share God’s love and mercy. Some might find compassion through a lay minister leading a spiritual retreat, others might find forgiveness in confession with their pastor, and still others experience transformation through an exceptional religious education teacher. Your gift to the Bishop’s Appeal helps build up these Faces of God’s Mercy.
Perfect examples of Faces of God’s Mercy are the counselors of Catholic Charities. Like Jesus helping the blind man, they help people get on their feet and gain their dignity. They help a teen mom learn to parent her child, gain employment and build a life. Or they help counsel a young couple in debt to gradually pay off their bills, better manage their finances, and re-build their credit.
Consider the compassionate “care ministers” who are the face of Jesus to many people in their parishes. It is amazing to know we have more than 1,000 care ministers who visit people in need of God’s tender love, those who might be homebound, hospitalized, terminally ill, or facing a crisis. Care ministers brighten the day of those they visit. They pray together, bring Communion to those who can’t get to Mass, and provide support when people need it most.
We have many Faces of God’s Mercy involved in youth ministry. The youth of today are the future of our church and I am inspired by those who ignite the fire of faith in our young people. There are many ways we get kids on fire for the Lord. Whether it is a week at Camp Tekakwitha, retreats like Steubenville or Youth Jam, or weekly religious education classes. It is through funding from the Bishop’s Appeal we can find new ways to inspire the Catholic faith in these young people and deliver programming throughout the diocese.
These ministries show just a few Faces of God’s Mercy in our diocese, all able to serve thanks to generous donations to the Bishop’s Appeal. Open yourself up to the Lord in prayer and consider where you need mercy in your life, and how you might be the face of mercy to others. Mercy requires action if we are to be transformed, and to help others be transformed. Please prayerfully consider your gift to the Bishop’s Appeal, thank you for your generous support!