A Gift after Worship

I did not know it until I attend morning worship. Today Mother Teresa of Calcutta was made a saint by Pope Frances. Several people were wearing Mother Teresa t-shirts in church.
Father Michael gave the homily (sermon) during Mass. The lectionary text included Luke 14 where Jesus tells his disciples they must hate their family and take up their cross and follow him. The other text was from Philemon where Paul asks for mercy for a runaway slave, Onesimus.
Fr. Michael did an excellent job of weaving these scripture texts together to talk about the discipleship. He mentioned the cost of discipleship to Mother Teresa. She experienced great periods of darkness while caring for the dying in India. This only came to be known after her death when her spiritual journals were discovered.
Pope Francis has declared 2016 to be the Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church. So I guess it makes sense that at the back of the church a strange woman approached me and handed me a gift. It was necklace with a picturce of Jesus. Rays of light were all around him. As I was headed out the church door, I asked a retreatant if they had received the same gift and what did it mean. No, she was not given a necklace but she was able to tell me what the necklace meant. This is the Year of Mercy and this is a picture of Jesus giving mercy to others. See the rays extending from his heart, she asked. There is a special prayer that goes with this necklace. You say it each night. You asked God to be merciful to all those who will die this day. Wow, what a powerful prayer. After all we never know when we will die or when someone we love will die.
Later the same woman came up to me at lunch and gave me a booklet explaining the prayers for the dying that Catholics are to asked to pray as part of the Year of Mercy. Of course, she had no idea I was a Baptist Pastor.
I am glad Mother Teresa was honored by her church on this day. I cannot think of a finer example of one who extended mercy to others especially the dying.
I want to be a person like her who loved Christ so much and gave so freely to others. Don’t all Christians wish we were more like her? After all wasn’t she was like Jesus. Isn’t being like Jesus the goal of our faith journey? We can start by practicing mercy. Our world is in great need of forgiveness, grace, understanding and genuine care for those who are hurting. Let’s make our church year, a year of mercy.
I Count It All Joy,
Pastor Vallerie

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