By Kelly Wahlquist
“Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good. In a sense, several sayings of St. Paul will not surprise us: “The love of Christ urges us on’ (2 Cor 5:14); ‘Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel'” (1 Cor 9:16). (The Joy of the Gospel, paragraph 9)
I always joke that someday I’m going to give a talk called, “Suffering is Like Being Pregnant.” Now, for many that is true. My dear cousin Jenny suffered greatly through her pregnancies, yet the end result was two beautiful girls. But that’s not where my mind is going when I’m thinking of the connection here.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ll understand. If not, bear with me and perhaps you’ll find the equivalent in your life. (If you’re guy, that equivalent might just be your Harley!)
The moment you find out your pregnant, everything changes. For example, the first time you go to the grocery store after learning you are pregnant, what do your see? Pregnant people EVERYWHERE! Why is that? Is it because all of a sudden everyone decided this was the right time to have a baby? Is it because you have gone to the grocery store exactly 9 months after a major power outage? No! It’s because when you’re pregnant, you notice all the pregnant people around you. When you are carrying life within you, you have a heightened awareness of others carrying life within them. The same happens with suffering. When we are suffering, we are naturally more in tune to the suffering of others. I think this too is what the Holy Father is talking about when he said, “… and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others.” Sometimes that liberation can come from being in the midst of our own pain.
For example, have you ever been hurting and yet felt compassion for someone whose pain or suffering you perceived is far worse than yours? I’m sure we all have. We could have a horrible day or be going through some rough times, and then we see that story on the news. The story of the little child fighting cancer, or the young father of five who died in the line of duty, or those suffering the terrible effects of a fatal storm. And we look at those people and our heart aches and we may even say, “I’m hurting, but nothing as bad as that. God bless them.” When you react that way, you are reacting with your heart and what you’re heart is experiencing is mercy.
Mercy is love when it encounters suffering and there seems to be something to the fact that we are more merciful when we ourselves are aware that we have been the recipient of mercy.
Now, just think what the world would be like if people really understood that we are all the recipients of the greatest of all mercy—God’s Divine Mercy. Something tells me that once people realize that the greatest love of all was nailed on a cross for our suffering and salvation—people would be much more merciful, much more sensitive to the needs of others. And from that mercy, that act of love, goodness would take root, develop and spread.
It appears that what the world need now, is love sweet love… in the form of mercy.