No one and nothing prepares you to be a parent. The amount of love that comes pouring out of your heart when you see your baby for the first time is indescribable. The first time I held my daughter, I thought to myself, I never knew I could love someone so much. And then, the 3am feedings came. My heart, while still full of love, took on very different feelings of tiredness, annoyance and anxiety. Despite all of these things, the minute I peered over into the crib and looked into those big bright eyes, my heart, while still sleepy, filled with love – a love that tramples over sleeplessness and backaches. And by the grace of God, I was and still am able to muster enough energy to comfort her.
Both readings speak today in the vain of merciful love. In the first reading, Solomon, recognizing his youth and ignorance about what he was about to take on, asked the Lord not for riches but for an understanding heart to rule his people. The Lord pleased with him, grants him this and so much more. In the climate of our world today, we all need hearts of understanding. In this year of Mercy, we are called by Pope Francis to be “merciful like the father.” Mercy is God’s love in action, and we are called to be the actors. How are we using our hearts of understanding in our families? Communities? With strangers?
We are further given example of this by Christ our Savior. In the Gospel reading, His first intention is to go off to a deserted place and rest a while with his disciples. They must have been tired from their travels and needed time to recharge. Yet, when He saw the crowds He was moved with pity for them. Some translations use the word compassion instead of pity. In either event, the Gospel writer Mark uses this strong emotion to show us the love that Jesus had for his people. It is reminiscent of Psalm 23, where the shepherd leads the psalmist by restful waters. He loves and teaches the people, He is their shepherd. We are reminded of the all-giving, sacrificial love that Christ offers us. He wants us to follow and learn from Him.
As you go about your day, take time and reflect on how you can be God’s love in action. How can you be more loving, compassionate and merciful? Be reminded of God’s great love for you. Come to Him, rest and learn from Him for He is our shepherd. Go forth, wrapped in His mercy to give to others.
“God is always waiting for e never grows tired. Jesus shows us God’s merciful patience so that we can regain confidence and hope — always!” Pope Francis on Divine Mercy Sunday 2013
Kim Valdez is the pastoral associate at Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center in Houston, Texas