by Sister Alice Dunlop
“Merci.” It is the French word for “thank you.” I grew up in a family where we were taught to say thank you, and to send thank you notes for gifts.
This value, which was instilled in us as children, continues to this day. I can almost hear my parents reminding me to say thank you more often than I do.
This seemingly small human gesture is important, but what is even more important is the thank you, the gratitude, we give to God for his love, his mercy.
As I become more aware of my human failings, selfishness and sinfulness, I become more aware of a merciful God (and merciful family and friends) who can see beyond my failings and affirm a person who is broken yet good, struggling yet blessed. That mercy, from others and from God, compels me to be a person of mercy, a person who is merciful with myself – and with others.
In “The Sign of Jonas,” written in 1953, Thomas Merton writes an epilogue about God’s mercy as he depicts God speaking to Jonah: “‘I have always overshadowed Jonas with my mercy, and cruelty I know not at all. Have you had sign of me Jonas, my child? Mercy within mercy within mercy.’”
And so let us together give:
A thank you to Merton, who tells us that God overshadows us with mercy!
A thank you to St. Francis, who celebrated God’s mercy for all people, all creation!
A thank you to Pope Francis who calls us to a special Year of Mercy , for ourselves, each other and all creation!
A thank you to a good and gracious God who is mercy and calls us to mercy!
Merci for Mercy!