I tried something new this Advent. I kept a daily log of who I saw the face of Jesus in by their kind words, deeds or actions. I call them my “Advent angels.” I’m thinking that I’ll send my recordings to these wonderful folks who helped my Advent journey be a little more meaningful this year.
I really tried to put more of a concentrated effort into preparing my heart for the birth of our Savior. My inbox contained several daily reminders on how to think-pray-act to better prepare myself spiritually, mentally, emotionally and even physically for Christmas. I think it helped. Overall, I felt more peace-filled and less chaos-crazed.
‘Watching’ for Christ
Each year I select a word that describes a goal or focus of my spiritual journey. “Watch” was my word for 2015. I “watched” for the Lord’s presence in my life, and he revealed it in many different ways, people and places.
Besides my Advent angels, another example of “watching” that comes to mind happened this fall when I got my hair cut. The owner of the salon was telling me how she’d gone outside — with a $20 bill in her hand — to walk over to the grocery store to buy Tylenol for her headache. First though, she stopped to fix the fall planter just outside the front door of her shop. Did I mention it was a windy day? Next thing she knew, she had to head back inside for more money because she no longer had a $20 bill in her hand, even after searching for a good 15 minutes.
It’s hard to describe but it felt like the Holy Spirit was guiding me just where to look when I got ready to leave. Sure enough, there was a $20 bill lying on the frozen ground between the shop and my van. It gave me great delight to run back in and give it back to its rightful owner. It was an amazing feeling to be so joy-filled about returning it versus pocketing it. Gosh, I liked that feeling.
Which brings me to my word for 2016: Mercy.
OK, not too original considering Pope Francis declared this the Year of Mercy a long time ago. Nonetheless, still a good one to be more mindful of, I think.
Mercy and grace
I recently read a definition of grace and mercy that said, “Grace is getting what we don’t deserve” and “Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.” Again, grace is getting what we DON’T deserve and mercy is NOT getting what we DO deserve.
I like that. God’s grace and mercy are such amazingly abundant gifts. And, to be given freely to a sinner like me? All I have to do is ask? Incredible!
So, even though God doesn’t need to show his mercy when I mess things up — like, all the times I pocketed the $20 bucks, so to speak — he does it anyway. He takes delight in it even. He’d rather give me what I don’t deserve — his mercy — versus punishing me. Why? Because he loves me that much!
Pope Benedict XVI said, “Jesus Christ is divine mercy in person; encountering Christ means encountering God’s mercy.”
So, if I can be more merciful to others — meaning, give back their $20 bucks, for example — maybe they’ll see Christ in me and want more of him in their life, too. I want others to see Christ’s face in me like I saw it in my Advent angels.
Rita Meyer is married and the mother of four children age 16 and under. She and her family are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Meire Grove. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.