Little practical acts of mercy
Here are some little suggestions to express, with concrete acts, thoughtfulness and love (practical expressions of mercy) toward people we know or, even better, toward total strangers. Let our actions be a surprise to them! These are not only for this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy so proclaimed by Pope Francis, but for always.
Sharing—or giving. But not necessarily, just money. A greeting, a kind word, a gentle touch, even a sincere smile, will do, but always given from the heart. Give as much as you can, after all what you give comes from the Lord; you are simply sharing it with others. It is not yours; it was never yours. God made you a steward of it until you can find someone more needy than yourself to give it to or share it with. Give without being judgmental or making the recipient feel small or humiliated. Give quietly, no publicity, no showing off. Give with grace and with a feeling of gratitude. Never regret having given. Do not forget God: give thanks for your blessings, volunteer your service in any way you can.
Do not forget those close or closest to you. Sometimes we are nice and kind to total strangers, but are hard and selfish to those close to us: family, our staff, our fellow workers in the ministry, people we know are really in need of help. Pray for the grace not to be hurt when those to whom you do good do not thank you. Just do good and forget it.
When you are eating out, like in a fast-food joint, always buy something for “take out,” no matter how small; and give to the person or child begging in the corner or under the flyover. Give with a smile. Graciously. Don’t wait for a “Thank you.” Just walk away. Thank God for having that person there, so you can share something with him/her.
Open your heart to forgive, to reconcile. Write a letter to someone you think you have offended or hurt or ignored. Remember that as we forgive, so shall we be forgiven. With life so short, do not keep grudges. Instead, be gentle and be kind. Always.
If you remember someone who is now dead, but with whom you had differences while he/she was alive, offer a Mass for him/her and pray for his/her eternal rest.
Pray for peace in your heart, in your family, in your workplace, in your community, in your city, in the world.
Discover and bond with creation. Be merciful to Mother Earth. Treat creation with respect and gratitude, seeing in it the hand and mercy of God taking care of us. Avoid waste. Learn to recycle. Learn and live the theology of stewardship in relation to nature.
Be “vulnerable” in your poverty and simplicity. Speak to the Lord. Visit the Blessed Sacrament and communicate with the Real Presence of the Risen Lord there. Do this often, regularly. It will be a powerful source of strength. If you think you need to go to confession—the great Sacrament of Mercy and Forgiveness—go, and do not make excuses.
Be joyful, joy being one of the signs of the presence of God. Celebrate life, celebrate the relationships you have: birthdays, special anniversaries, etc. Surprise people you love with little tokens or gifts, even if there is no occasion.
Laugh more, frown less. Avoid dwelling on the past, except to thank God for your blessings or to pick out lessons learned. The future is uncertain; we are not even sure of tomorrow. Live the “now moment,” that is why it is called the present—a gift—so enjoy it. Be prepared. Have no fear, only peace. Have full and childlike trust in God’s mercy.
Antonio Maria Rosales, OFM, is an author, artist and visiting professor of Moral Theology at the St. Alphonsus Theological and Missionary Institute in Davao City. He is based in St. Francis Friary, Punta Princesa, Cebu City.