“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to everyone” (Mk 16:15).
Sixteen years ago, firmly desiring to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’s love to far-off places, I went on mission in Mexico with my family. Many opportunities to share God’s love knocked at my door every day in the form of hungry, sick, and lonely people whom I usually felt privileged to serve. I say usually because, in my weakness, there were times when I resented the constant interruptions to my life and the demands on my time and resources.
One morning, Jesus showed up in the distressing disguise of an elderly lady with a falsified prescription. The misspelled writing stated that she needed the equivalent of $500 dollars for surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. The prescription was obviously fake, and my anger at being lied to surged inside of me. I looked up from reading the forgery to throw her out of my house.
At that moment, by God’s grace, I was reminded of Jesus, who is all love and mercy. Jesus, who is the Good News I aspire to proclaim. I was incapable of mercy on my own. The Holy Spirit, not I, is the principal agent of any evangelization. Rather than raising my voice, I closed my eyes, praying under my breath, “Please help me Holy Spirit, give me your love for this lady.” When I opened my eyes, I really saw her for the first time—threadbare shoes, mended clothes, tousled hair, and dark circles under her eyes. Miraculously, my heart softened and hurt for her. “I can tell this prescription is fake,” I began softly, “but I can also see that you need help. Could you tell me what your real needs are? I would love to help you.” Immediately, tears poured down her cheeks as she said that she had been kept up all night by the cries of hungry grandchildren. Often unable to provide even for herself, she had been unexpectedly given three small children to raise the day before. “I need milk,” she explained, “and gas for my stove and maybe some bread or rice?” Within hours we had stocked her kitchen and filled her gas tank. We prayed together for God to provide her needs in Jesus’s name, and promised that she could always come back for food if she needed it—which she occasionally did.
The call to proclaim the Good News is too big for me, too big for any of us. I must always rely on the Holy Spirit whether in Mexico or in my current home in Louisiana.
Lately, I have been doing a daily examen that gives me one “gift” a day to embrace. A few weeks ago, I was striving to embrace peace, when I had an epic breakdown of that goal during the hour of homework, supper prep, and fussy toddlers that seems to co-occur daily. I angrily sent my six-year-old sobbing to her room, and sat down to contemplate my sad failure in the mission of holy motherhood. Suddenly it occurred to me: this mission doesn’t depend on me; it belongs to the Holy Spirit. I silently asked for his help and was reminded that peace can be renewed, not just maintained. Walking into her room, I was able to really see my daughter’s overwhelming feelings, and to extend mercy to her. I explained that I felt overwhelmed too, and asked for her forgiveness. Peace reigned in her sweet, forgiving embrace.
Jesus’ love and mercy is the Good News that the whole world desperately needs. We are called to proclaim it to the world, but we need to remember that God’s love and mercy is also bestowed freely on us when we ask in our moments of need. Come, Holy Spirit!