by Sister Carol Ann Wassmuth
Beyond doubt during this year dedicated by Pope Francis to the theme of mercy, we will be offered a vast multitude of words and images intended to help us enter more fully into that mystery. So much so that we may find our eyes glazing over and our minds saying “enough already.” Our challenge will be to discover that image of mercy which relates to our personal life experience, those words that speak the truth to our inner self.
Recently I came across this description of mercy: the willingness to enter into the chaos of another person’s life. In chaos all is disordered and meaningless. Daily we are bombarded with pictures of the chaos in our world erupting in violence, poverty, disasters, starvation. It becomes overwhelming and the temptation is to block it from our consciousness and go on with our lives. But mercy begs to differ.
In the very first words of scripture God is pictured as stepping into total chaos and with word and breath bringing about meaning and order. God’s mercy embodied the nothingness and we are now the daily beneficiaries of that tremendous action. All of creation is a joyous shout in praise of the loving mercy of God.
St. Benedict lived in a time of societal chaos. He envisioned communities that would bring meaning into that chaos by modeling a balanced, loving and caring lifestyle. He never intended the monastery to be simply a safe haven from the cares and dangers of life. Maybe Pope Francis is hoping to push all of us out of our comfort zone into the lives of our suffering brothers and sisters. Even when we feel incapable of changing anything, our willingness to care can be a beam of mercy in the darkness.