Freeman Cebu Lifestyle


TACKED THOUGHTS - Nancy Unchuan Toledo - The Freeman

My understanding of mercy is very limited. Mercy was what you gave when people said sorry and you decided to forgive them. These days, I don’t get to practice this very often because I don’t particularly find myself in conflict with others – at least as far as I know. However, with the Church celebrating the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, I might have to rethink my understanding of the matter.

Going back to my catechism, I find the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. I remember memorizing them as a child but I confess I’ve forgotten many of them. To recap — spiritual works of mercy: admonish the sinner; instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; comfort the sorrowful; bear wrongs patiently; forgive all injuries; pray for the living and the dead. Corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; visit the imprisoned; bury the dead.

The Church has very specific ways to show mercy and it might even seem like a checklist to some. It’s a great way to start. But maybe it isn’t about checking off a list, maybe it’s going back to the heart of the list, the spirit behind the gestures. And it wouldn’t be surprising that at the heart of it all, as it is with most important things, is love.

Mercy is about a love that does not expect something in return. More than that, mercy is a love that sometimes doesn’t even need to be asked. In the stories about Jesus, there are many instances wherein he asks people for what they want, before he gives it to them. Perhaps for these people, saying what they need out loud is the first step to healing. But in many other stories, too, Jesus responds to a need even when nobody asks – he feeds five thousand because it is hot and he doesn’t want people to be hungry, he heals people who haven’t even said anything, he offers truth and counsel… the list goes on. In other words, Jesus anticipates the needs of those around him even if they haven’t been voiced it out loud. And he always gives mercy to those who are overlooked – the poor, the stranger, the widow, the sick, the desperate.

If I look back this past year alone, I can barely count the blessings I’ve asked and God has given to me. But I’ve received countless other gifts that I hadn’t even asked for because I didn’t know such gifts existed or I didn’t know I needed them. But God has anticipated my every need and I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.

This is what I need to work on this year – to give not just when others ask but to give because I see their needs. Not everyone who needs help asks for it. And not everyone who needs help knows that he does. If I learn to be kind, to listen to others, to look at them with compassion, then acts of mercy would be easier to remember, whether they’re on or off the official list.

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