Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Merciful Heart

When Sister Bridget Haase's wrote her book,  "Generous Faith", she wrote a simple book of short stories and remembrances.   In one of those more personal notes, she tells the story of her father's death by suicide.  After writing some about his life and death, she offers some reflective words, "Daddy's suicide taught me that one act does not determine the whole of one life.  Love shown, kindness rendered, sacrifices made, pain endured, worries borne--these constitute the essence of goodness and make a difference in the lives of others.  A single act, in a moment of despair, does not take this meaning or goodness away."
How sad and unfortunate it is that we so easily define people by some single act in their life that is filled with negative connotations instead of the many positive things done along the way.  Sometimes we do so to the point that we all but substitute the single act for their name.  Their very identity becomes obscure midst an act of desperate despair.  It is not only easy to do this with someone who has taken their life, but also with those who make bad decisions and judgments along the way.  The one thing we can never precisely know with complete understanding is what it is like to walk in someone else's shoes. 
Perhaps, this is part of the reason Jesus calls us to live a life which withholds judgments of others.  While it is certainly true we are quick to call down fire on someone as a way of keeping the finger from rightly being pointed at us, it is also true that passing judgments can only cause harm to another or to another's memories.  Neither of these results speak of loving as Jesus said to love.  Neither speaks of a heart that desires only the highest good for another.  Sister Bridget Haase surely points us toward the way that speaks of God's merciful heart. 

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