In tandem with God’s mercy



It was one of those beautiful spring evenings, filled with promise.

I was a senior living at Our Lady of Grace Academy. The boarders didn’t go outside much; but for some reason, I found myself walking on the monastery grounds with a fellow senior.

She was the tallest girl in our class, and I was one of the shrimps.

As we walked and talked that evening after dinner, we spotted a tandem bike propped up against a garage wall. It was clearly begging for riders, and the weather was too beautiful to say no.

We did a few laps around the monastery, and then headed into the town of Beech Grove. I still remember the exhilaration of the moment. I can’t say whether I had a really bad case of spring fever or if it was senioritis, but it felt so good to have some freedom.

We pedaled through a nearby neighborhood for a while, and then headed back.

We were in pretty good spirits until….

As we entered back onto the monastery grounds, we spotted our principal standing on the front steps of the academy.

She was dressed in the Benedictine garb of the late 1960s. Black habit. Black veil. Black shoes.

Her arms were crossed across her chest, and she wasn’t smiling.

She didn’t acknowledge us with a nod or a wave; she just watched us pedal by.

The plunge from exhilaration to fear was exhausting.

We went inside and waited.

Nothing happened. No call for us to come to the principal’s office. Nothing.

I think that was my first experience of mercy.

There have been plenty more – too many to count – but that was my introduction to it.

God our Father’s mercy is even bigger.

We know from Psalms that He is slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

But what is mercy?

Simply put, it is compassion or forgiveness given in the place of punishment or harm.

The lyrics of the song, “Your Mercy Like Rain,” encourage us to taste God’s mercy like rain on our face.

Accepting God’s mercy when we make mistakes is the easy part.

The hard part? Learning to be merciful to others. Maybe that’s our challenge for Lent.