Today, in this time of pandemic, we are all concerned about keeping our physical bodies safe and healthy. Yet, have you given any thought to what you must do to keep your spirit safe and healthy?
Yesterday, a friend called me and asked me to pray for him. “I have a virus,” he told me. I was immediately alarmed thinking the worst. “Yes,” he sighed. “I have a spiritual virus. I need a respirator to restore the health of my soul.” Puzzled, I enquired further. “I infect my children, my employees, my friends, and my wife with the virus of my anger, my bitterness, my pessimism, my lack of faith, and my inconsistencies,” he confided.
As I pondered this man’s confession to me, I realized that I, too, may have the “virus.” I wondered if I was interacting with others in a way that was healthy for my soul. Standing in front of a mirror, my friend had diagnosed the reality he was living; he saw himself upclose and in-depth and he didn’t like his reflection. “Who am I,” he had asked himself, “and how should I be interacting with those around me?” Perhaps these are questions we all should be asking ourselves. As we struggle with the daily challenges of interacting with others outside of our norm, maybe we all should be taking a closer look in the mirror. Who are we actually and who do we want to be for those around us?
When we are not in love with the reflection we see in the mirror, we need not despair. The Holy Spirit is alive within us and will guide us if we open our hearts and minds. Let us not forget that God looks at us with the eyes of a Father who wants to embrace us, who wants to restore us, and who longs to get us back on our feet. Let us ask God for His eyes, so we may look at ourselves as He looks at us. Let us remind ourselves that God’s mercy abounds and we need only look within ourselves to find it so we can share it with everyone around us.
When we think of God’s mercy we need to understand that mercy is not only experiencing forgiveness; biblically, it is also being attentive to see, stop, take charge, and respond to others as a reflection of God’s love. The health of the soul is dependent on this aspect of mercy. When Jesus appeared to the disciples and said, “Peace be with you,” he was counting on His disciples to spread the gift of love and mercy throughout the world. He gave them new life through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We too have the Holy Spirit! The Spirit is the respirator of our souls that breathes new air into us and gives us life. If we are truly to live through the mercy of God and the life of the Spirit, we must open ourselves up to that which God is offering to us. Are you open to the Holy Spirit working within you? Do you listen to those who live in your house with a welcoming attitude? Are you a missionary of God’s mercy and love? Let us, as Pope Francis says, “…be mercy, …bestow mercy, …offer mercy.”
May Mary, Most Holy, give us a merciful heart, so that we can empty ourselves of everything that distances us from God. May our hearts be filled with the true respirator of our souls, the One that fights all the viruses present within us. May our hearts, Lord, be filled with the peaceful and merciful love of your Spirit. AMEN.
Paula Gomez Victorica was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was a contemplative nun of the Order of Saint Benedict for 20 years. Since 2001, she has lived in Natick, Massachusetts.
Paula is a Certified Spiritual Director. She currently teaches Biblical Spirituality in asynchronous courses online at Boston College. She is the Coordinator of the Hispanic Community at Saint Ignatius Parish, Chestnut Hill, MA. She is also a Eucharistic Minister and collaborates in the pastoral and enrichment commissions in two parishes of the Metrowest.