by Vince Cascone
You may have heard the story of the man who died and soon after approached St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter informed the man that he needed to explain why he should be allowed to enter heaven and that the man needed to accumulate 100 points to have the gates opened for him.
The man started to rattle off his list of good deeds: “I have gone to Mass every Sunday since I was a little boy. I have been a good husband and father. I gave to the poor whenever they needed it. I volunteered my time in my parish.” The man went on and on about the many good things he had done in his life.
When he was sure he named them all, he looked St. Peter in the eye, waiting intently for his response. St. Peter looked at him and said, “That will be good for one point.”
Dejected and frustrated, the man threw his face in his hands and yelled, “My God, have mercy on me.” With that, St. Peter said, “Now you get it! God’s mercy is all you need. You need only ask for it.”
Mercy can be defined as withholding punishment that is deserved. It should give us solace that the first leader of the church and the one whom Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven denied that he even knew Our Lord, even after walking side by side with him and seeing all of his works over three years. I can certainly relate to this more than I would like to admit.
Our Catholic schools strive to teach our students about God’s beautiful gift of mercy. In a world that tells us how we need to look and what we need to do to be accepted, we teach our young people that the creator of the universe does not look at them through this lens.
The creator of the universe loves them simply because they are his. They only need to recognize their human weaknesses and failures and call out to him, “My God, have mercy on me.”
In the 42 schools in the archdiocese, we will be teaching about this beautiful gift of God’s mercy throughout Lent.
I am asking all faculty and staff members in our schools not only to teach the children about God’s mercy, but to show them firsthand examples of what mercy looks like.
As Jesus himself said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”
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