The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained
by Sr. Mary Fagan, SHSp
As I was leaving a presentation on the Year of Mercy at St. Mark’s Parish in April, I was handed a note by one of the planners. I opened the envelope and saw that two crisp $100 bills had been included. When I read the note I discovered that the money was meant to be used as seed money for my students to design a “work of mercy” in honor of this holy year.
I stand forever transformed by this magnanimous offer. Each of my English III (juniors) students designed a plan for how they could do the most loving deed with that $200. For many of them, it was difficult because their own needs and the needs of their families are so immediate but each of them reached down to the true essence of mercy and created a plan of extravagant kindness for those who are on the edges of the grid of attention.
In order to stir up some enthusiasm for the project I designated a prize for the two best projects. The second prize was for a project that would give roses to abused women. The first prize went to the most impractical and risky yet most merciful suggestion. I include Anthony Ross’ plan in his own words:
“I see her every day as I pull up to the Handy Stop on the Eastside. She just sits there in front of the abandoned house on the side of the store. She is in and out of cars of strange men she hardly knows. Different drugs are running through her veins. Things for her are out of control. I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to remind her that things get better? She just has to hold on.’ I give her my last change every time I come out of the store. She tells me ‘Thank You’ every time so I know she has some manners. I never see her in trouble with the police, just always on the streets. I hardly ever see people speak to her as they walked past. Some just throw crumbled dollars at her as she sits in the same spot awaiting another mission.
If I had $200, I would buy her a “Crossed Paths Friendship Necklace” from James Avery for $120 to remind her that even though she’s in a tough situation, she still has a friend like me that cares for her. The rest I would give to her as spending money. I don’t even know her name.”
The following week Anthony showed me a picture of himself and his beneficiary wearing her necklace and beaming with the kind of grace that no money could buy. The story is not over yet.
I sent all of the students’ plans to the kind woman who untapped the flow of mercy in my students, yet wanted to remain anonymous. Within days, she hand delivered notes to some of the students and an outline for future projects and 20 more $100 bills. She trusts that the Healy Murphy students know the faces and stories of those who most need to taste God’s mercy “like rain on their faces”.
The word “mercy” has become one of the most popular words at Healy Murphy thanks to this noble woman who trusted students she does not even know to be conduits of money and mercy. Mercy truly does “twice bless” as Shakespeare said.
© 2015 Healy-Murphy Center.