So what is the Year of Mercy all about?
I think a story is due.
One Monday evening last year, my husband and I were leaving a Bible Study group from our parish. My husband likes to note that it was because he rambled towards to the end that we left a little later than normal (and I gave him a little trouble about it!) As we were driving out of the parking lot, we passed the school behind the church and at that moment, a young man came out and sat down on the steps and buried his head in his hands.
I said to my husband, "We should ask him if he's ok." My husband was driving and kept going, "He's probably fine. There are lights on the school and there are probably lots of people in there. Maybe he just needed fresh air."
But the Holy Spirit wouldn't let me drop it. "We need to go back and ask him. It's just one question!" My husband kept driving. "Come on Darc. I'm sure he's fine." We had been driving a few minutes at this point. I continued, "We just came from Bible Study! Are we going to live what we've learned or what?! We are disciples of Christ!"
My husband turned around. "Ok, but I'm going to pull up so he's on YOUR side, so you can talk to him." In those few minutes driving back, I prayed to the Holy Spirit for His words. As we pulled up, the young man was in the same position as when we left.
I rolled down my window, "Excuse me, are you ok?" He responded, "Oh yeah, I'm fine." I continued, "No really. I just had my husband turn around so we could come back to ask you if you're ok. Are you ok?" He cracked a smile and shook his head, "It's an AA meeting in the school and I had to take a break because so much was coming up."
At that moment, I knew exactly why God sent us to him. Only God would know to send a former alcohol abuser to this young man. I said, "I know how hard that is for you. I struggled with alcohol in high school and college. I know the pain, suffering, fear and desperation. You know what really helped me? Confession. Being able to bring all the shame, guilt, regret to God for forgiveness and healing made such a difference. It changed my life. Are you Catholic?"
He answered, "Well yes, but kinda practicing." I couldn't believe I was being so bold - this was all the Holy Spirit! I asked, "Have you been to Confession?"
He looked down, "No" and after a deep breath looked up, "you don't understand, I was just sitting here contemplating whether I should go to Confession. I was looking up at the cross on top of the church and asking God. And then you guys come out of no where and you're telling me about Confession. I can't believe this. Who are you?"
"I'm Darcie and this is Christian!" At this point were both out of the car and shaking our new friend's hand, Gino. We exchanged a few more words, gave him a hug and assured him of our prayers for him. He was in shock and all he could say was thank you. As we got back in the car, we could see him tearing up...but he was smiling. He just had a God moment!!!
Driving home, Christian said, "I will never doubt you again!" but it's the Holy Spirit we'll never doubt again. I had never felt like such an instrument in God's hands as I did that night. It was beautiful! I also learned that maybe my husband's rambling isn't so bad..
This is what the Year of Mercy is all about: sharing the mercy God has had with us with others. All of us have been shown mercy and we're called to share it with one another!
If you haven't read it already - Misericordiae Vultus BULL OF INDICTION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY