file56c5f467914b4 Newley Comb Cross in Snow by RHaynes (2014) via Morguefile

The Latin word for mercy is misericordia, literally, to have a miserable heart. Mercy entails the meeting of another’s needs at the expense of our own, a taking up of another’s troubles, extending our own miserable hearts to help console another in his sorrow.

This mercy, as a priest friend recently remarked at the dinner table, hurts like hell. How can we, already weighed down by the problems of this world, extend a hand to someone else?

Alone it’s impossible, and we’re far more likely to add to another’s burdens instead of lightening them. This is why we’re in great need of the Kingly Sacred Heart this year when Our Holy Father has asked us to make an even greater effort to show mercy to others, giving them a taste of the abundance of merciful love to be found in Our Heavenly Father. It’s nearly impossible to believe in a merciful God when we ourselves have never been shown mercy. This year, then, it’s especially important to bestow a human touch on the wounded hearts of our neighbors so that they might in it feel the divine touch of infinite love.

Moms are uniquely suited to bring that warmth of personal care and attention to others. The Holy Father challenges us this year to go a little further than we normally would in showing consideration towards others. If in the past we might’ve dashed off a birthday note, perhaps this year we could take the trouble to make a card ourselves or bake something delicious. We could scroll through our saved pins to find something that would especially lift a friend’s spirits. We could get out a cherished but dusty cookbook and take the time to make those things that we’ve always wanted to cook but never had the time to in order to make our family’s Sunday particularly joyful and an occasion to look forward to.

Mercy surely is painful at first—it’s so much easier not to do anything at all—but Mother Teresa reminds us, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. The Holy Father is challenging us to bring our best to others this year.

Copyright 2016 Meg Matenaer