“So many people ask to be listened to and to be understood. The Gospel of mercy requires generous and joyful servants, people who love freely without expecting anything in return. ‘Peace be with you!’ (John 20:21) is the greeting of Jesus to his disciples; this same peace awaits men and women of our own day.… It is a peace that does not divide but unites; it is a peace that does not abandon us but makes us feel listened to and loved; it is a peace that persists even in pain and enables hope to blossom. This peace, as on the day of Easter, is born ever anew by the forgiveness of God which calms our anxious hearts.” —Pope Francis
The story of Thomas in the Upper Room is a clear example of Jesus meeting us in those wounded places in our lives and wordlessly offering us whatever we need to move beyond the hurt into a place of healing, trust, and peace. He doesn’t scold Thomas for needing proof; he doesn’t condemn him for a lack of faith. He holds out his hands and gives Thomas what he needs. We each have our own struggles with faith, with trust, with love, whether in our relationships with others, our connection to a church community, our responsibilities at home, at work, in school. As we place our needs before God’s loving mercy, we open ourselves to receive whatever gesture of peace he offers us. Mercy is the sign of God’s ongoing presence in the world. Few people have made this more clear and compelling than Pope Francis. And it’s not just about realizing that God is merciful to us. It’s realizing that we are now called, compelled, even commanded to be merciful to all those people we meet.
In his preaching on mercy, Pope Francis often emphasizes the importance of listening compassionately to people who are wounded, struggling, searching for God’s love. So often we want to rush in to fix other people’s lives. The next time you feel this urge, take a step back and first simply listen to and love the person before you. God’s peace passes all our human understanding. And often it lies beyond our limited human words.
— from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis,
by Diane M. Houdek