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apilateThis morning as I was pondering the lectionary readings for the day I came across an old (2005) edition of Joan Chittister’s daily reflection pamphlet, The Monastic Way, that I had saved. Long before Francis had been elected Pope and proclaimed this a year of mercy, Sister Joan had spent a month writing about “The Audacity of Mercy.” Of course she was not talking about audacity in its negative “Well! The audacity of that woman to tell me what to do!” but rather of audacity in a positive context, meaning daring, bravery, courage, pluck…Her reflections are brief but always to the point and the one that caught my attention most of all this morning was the following:

The major holy-making moment in our own lives may be when we receive the mercy we know we do not deserve. Then, we may never again substitute disdain for understanding, rejection for openness, legalism for justice. “I think perhaps it is a better world,” Helen Waddell writes, “if one has a broken heart. Then one is quick to recognize it elsewhere.

As we come ever closer to the events of Holy Week, we would do well to remember this lesson and look for ourselves in the crowds that Jesus will encounter: those shouting praises on Palm Sunday, those jeering as he stands before Pilate or carries his cross…or even those of his disciples that go missing or deny him when it gets dangerous. Shall we judge them, or would we do better to carry a mirror with us into every situation to see where we stand? What is our “mercy quotient?” May you, may I, always be found standing on the side of the mercy that is born of truth and love.