Last Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, I was down in Lexington, South Carolina for my father’s funeral. I attended Corpus Christi Parish. I went by myself as my wife was still in New York and could not be there, and my brothers and sisters living near there were not Catholic. Even though I went by myself, the parishioners were very warm and welcoming and I felt at home. The priest who said the mass gathered all of the children around him on the altar steps. He asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. Each child responded and there were things like, Teacher, Astronaut (what I would have answered at that age), Police man or woman, Fire man or woman, etc. The children were all excited at the personal attention the priest gave them and at his interest in their ideas. After hearing from all of the children, he said that all of them could probably become what they wanted to be with a little bit of work. Then he said, “what if your parents told you that age eight you had to leave school and help with the farm; or what if there was no school at all near you; or what if the school consisted of a metal shed with no books or blackboards or other learning tools.” He told them that for a very large number of children in the world, that was what they faced.
When he said this it reminded me of my own mission trip down to Zambia in Africa last fall. I went with a charity (HALO Missions) that helps bring medical and educational help to orphans throughout that area. I remember the wonderful, happy children who could not attend school because they did not have the money to buy the government required school uniforms. I remember visiting the local school that was definitely under sized and quite primitive compared to what we have. I remember helping bring medical assistance to these orphans, sometimes saving their lives with less than $4.00 worth of medicine. I remember the school headmaster’s smile when we told him we were giving him enough money to complete the school extension that the government had stopped due to lack of funds. I also remember the joy on the faces of the 109 orphans that we dealt with telling them that we would purchase their school uniforms so they could attend school. Helping others brings such joy, and there are so many who need help. That was the message that the priest gave the children. They were having a special fund raiser for a charity that helped children around the world. I hope that the parents of these children heard that message and contributed generously.
So what does this have to do with Divine Mercy? It has plenty do to with it. John Paul II told us that Divine Mercy was twofold. The emphasis we have most of the time is the first part: God is Merciful; he is filled with unending Mercy. We do need to hear that and take it in to our heart. But we also have to live out the second part. The second part is that we too are called to be like God and be filled with Mercy. That means not only being forgiving, but also being generous in our dealings with others, especially the poor. We need to touch the people around us by showing God’s Mercy in our everyday lives. But we also have to be Merciful to those who do not have what we do. We need to shower them with generous, merciful actions. This Sunday, as we continue our Easter celebration and hear Jesus tell St. Peter that he must feed and tend the sheep, we too must think about how we can feed and tend God’s children who are in need. This should be a time when we think about the other part of Divine Mercy, Divine Mercy Too, our response to God’s Mercy and our call to bring Mercy to others. God bless.
To check out the the HALO missions website go to http://www.halomissions.org