By Colleen C. Mitchell
Today as I lined up my sixth grade class for lunch and began to lead them in grace, I asked them to take a moment to offer a prayer the victims of a recent hurricane. We finished prayer, and one of my students said, “My grandmother says that when bad things like that happen it is because God is punishing us for the evil things we do.”
I tried to gently explain that we believe in a God of mercy without outwardly contradicting his grandmother, but I was so saddened. I had watched this little one pray so reverently at our school Masses and be the first to volunteer to read or serve at the altar when the opportunity arose. To be seized by the thought that he might be doing it because he was afraid of God stung me.
Yet as I turned that conversation over in my head all day, I started to see the ways I look at others with eyes of judgment rather than compassion. The ways I respond to God out of fear rather than love. I realized there is a little bit of that grandmother in my head, and a little bit of that young one in my heart. Isn’t there in us all? Do we not all forget the nature of the heart of the Savior who showed us what the face of God looks like, and instead take on false notions of God sometimes? A judgment of another to keep us from looking at our own sins, and later, fear and hiding because those same sins have fogged our minds to the truth of God’s merciful heart?
Today we hear St. Paul admonish us that our comfort, our solace, the way we express our compassion and love is to be of one mind, acting as if we share the same heart. The humble heart of Christ. If we could always look at one another and ourselves with the merciful heart of our Savior, who humbled himself on a cross for our sins and the sins of every other person who lives or has ever lived, what kind of community would we be? How would we respond when someone was hurting? How would we respond to sin, in others and in ourselves?
Today I am praying for my sweet student’s heart and that of his grandmother. Today I am praying for my own heart. Today I am praying for your hearts, sisters. That we may be single-minded in seeing one another and ourselves with compassion and mercy, rather than judgment and fear. That we may find solace in knowing and showing the mercy of Christ.
About the Author:
Colleen Mitchell is a wife, bringer upper of boys, Gospel adventurer, wanna-be saint, author and speaker. She is the author of the award-winning Who Does He Say You Are: Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels, and the soon to be released When We Were Eve: Uncovering the Woman God Created You to Be. Her latest adventure has taken her from the jungle of Costa Rica where she and her family have served as missionaries for the last six years, to the wilds of a sixth grade classroom in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she is still living her mission to give everyone she meets just a little Jesus.