Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages;saying to the prisoners, “Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
They shall feed along the ways, on all the bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. And I will turn all my mountains into a road, and my highways shall be raised up. Lo, these shall come from far away, and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones. But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As I read, “For the Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted,” a recent interview by Pope Francis comes to mind. The interviewer asks why Pope Francis calls himself a sinner. The pope gives the example of Simon Peter. We can only imagine, with John 23:34 as our guide, the conversation that took place between Jesus and Simon Peter on the Sunday of Jesus’ resurrection.
Pope Francis asks us to think about what Peter must have said to Jesus. To approach Jesus after he saw him agonize, be spat upon, brutally murdered for Peter’s sins AND our sins, yet he still denied Jesus three times outside the High Priest’s house. Yet Jesus just says, “Peter, tend my sheep.” Not only does Jesus show mercy towards Peter, but Jesus entrusts him with the keys to build his Church. It is an incredible example of forgiveness, but there is also a complete surrender of Jesus to Peter, the one who denied him, to build the Church.
Let us remember this story as we enter the second half of the Lenten season. May we remember those who are seeking our mercy while we pray to receive mercy from others.
—Mary Catherine Koehler is a Campus Minister at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. She also co-moderates the school’s Ignatians for Peace and Justice and S.A.D.D. groups.
Life-giving God,, help me to reach out to others with your life-giving mercy.
Help me use my time and talent today in service to each person I meet.
Help me to walk always in the footsteps of Jesus. Amen.