Extending grace and mercy

    March 13, 2024

    We’re now nearer to the end of Lent than we are to the start. We may be struggling at this point to maintain or even remember our Lenten vows, the things we decided to give up or take on. We may be thinking that 40 days is an awfully long time to stay spiritually focused when so many other things command our attention — family, friends, bills, work. It’s a lot.

    So it’s comforting to remember that even when we forget the things we said we’d change or do better during Lent, God never forgets us or holds it against us when we slip. The reading from Isaiah tells us that even if a mother should forget her child — which is unthinkable to us — God never will. That strikes me as particularly poignant today, having just learned from a dear college friend that he recently met his birth mother, a woman whose life has often been sad and difficult, and who placed him for adoption with a loving family more than 50 years ago. She revealed to him his actual birthday, which turns out to be the same as mine. She never forgot him, and now they are slowly, bit by bit, bird by bird, building a relationship.

    We know that his mother struggled with mental illness and experienced homelessness, and I can only hope that she found loving care and compassion from people like the ones who staff our Catholic Charities agencies across the country. The Psalm today reminds us that “The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” The Lord does that through people who act as the hands and feet of Christ, and who see the face of Christ in those they serve, and in each other.

    I’m grateful for all my colleagues who extend grace and mercy to people like my friend’s mother, people who, as in Isaiah, say, “To those in darkness: Show yourselves! Along the ways they shall find pasture, on every bare height shall their pastures be.” May we all find sweet pasture when our souls most need it.

    Julie Bourbon is Senior Writer at Catholic Charities USA.

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