Casting a wide net of mercy

    December 4, 2023
    Advent reflection day 2 graphic. Watercolor brush strokes of Christmas tree branches in white and pale green.

    As we begin our Advent journey, we’re invited to release and refresh ourselves from the many wounds we carry, both personally and professionally. We need to make fresh room in our hearts for the presence of the baby Jesus, who comes as a vulnerable child, and the human and divine healer and new light of the world.

    No doubt, you and I derive satisfaction and gratitude from the amazing work we do alongside our colleagues, team members, volunteers and donors. Yet we also tend to shoulder the sadness and wounds brought to us by those we serve. It can seem impossible not to carry some of these wounds, since we all step into the hurricane every day through our service to some of God’s most vulnerable children — our clients. We are not immune to their suffering, which can sometimes exacerbate our own.

    Today’s beautiful Gospel carries an ironic and lasting tribute to those who lead in providing care, and who also suffer. The centurion, an unlikely figure in a message of healing, asks Jesus for healing — not for himself, but for one of his servants. As he always does, Jesus casts the net widely to ensure that no one is left out of the immersion of mercy and compassion he brings through his presence, his teachings, his suffering and his death and resurrection. The Savior’s healing presence also heals the centurion, whose plea for healing is recited each and every time we ask for the Lord’s presence to heal us through the reception of Holy Communion.

    This is the net of mercy and healing we all try to extend to those who suffer in our midst. May we also step into the realm of mercy and healing for ourselves as humble and flawed servants. Like the centurion, I need to be reminded to ask God to relieve the burden I carry for others, while also humbly asking for healing of my own wounds.

    God, please help me remember that this is your Catholic Charities. Amen.

    Deacon Tom Roberts is President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

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