Enacting mercy

October 1, 2016 - 12:00am -- Living City

Enacting mercy
How to continue living out the message of World Youth Day

By Jenna Holzer

Twenty-six of us from the Chicago and Midwest area set out in July for Krakow, Poland to attend World Youth Day. We all met in the airport in Chicago, and the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement about what was to come. Some of us had no idea what to expect … About half of the group knew each other from previous events, but many faces were new.

The week of World Youth Day challenged us on many levels. Not only were we oftentimes physically exhausted from traveling and walking, but also we were tested spiritually to put the words of Jesus into practice. Of course we are all called to put the words of the Gospel into practice in our daily lives, but nevertheless the call of the Gospel was put at the forefront of our minds during the various trials and joys of the trip. Loving our neighbor is easy to do when we are well fed and well rested, but the love for our neighbor is put to the test when we are tired, stressed, or hungry ourselves. In order to live and promote unity, fostering this genuine love for our neighbor, I discovered, was key.

Pope Francis spoke about many inspirational topics, but the one he emphasized the most was living out mercy in our daily lives. He said that God’s everlasting mercy toward us should call and inspire us to do the same for our neighbor. This would be a challenge, but the Christian message calls us to live an extraordinary life full of love and compassion and to overcome mediocrity.

Although different aspects of that week were challenging, once we arrived at home the experience itself turned out to be the easy part. We were reminded of the unity of the Catholic Church and interacted with many of our peers who are excited about their faith. We all met amazing and unforgettable people from around the world and learned firsthand the various nuances between some cultures.

When we arrived at home, however, the hard work of putting the messages we heard and experienced into practice began. I personally struggled with putting such a strong message of mercy into practice in my daily life. Nevertheless, I was inspired by Pope Francis’ words, and I have worked on incorporating small acts of mercy in my daily interactions with friends and other people I meet.

Recently, I have focused on becoming more welcoming to the new people around me, and holding my tongue when I disagree with a comment or suggestion. Part of enacting mercy is to make sure everyone around me feels loved and supported. I have also tried to swallow my pride and accept help readily and graciously, as well as sending a message to an old friend whom I had lost touch with as a result of an argument years ago.

All of these new additions of mercy in my life have impacted my spiritual life and overall wellbeing for the better. I can only hope I continue to stay inspired from the words of
Pope Francis!


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