Some time ago when I was working in Arequipa, Peru, a Maryknoll sponsor sent me money to help a person find a job or create one. Emperatriz, an abandoned mother with a small boy, was accustomed to beg for money at my door. One day I asked her if she knew how to do something that could enable her to earn money and not need to beg. She told me she could make and sell tamales at schools. She needed a corn grinder and money for ingredients. I went with her and with the donated money bought what she needed to produce 100 tamales. The next day she returned smiling and full of gratitude. She gave me one of the tamales she had made. My investment was about $70, but the woman is no longer begging and was able to enroll her child in school. I recalled how Jesus gave bread to the 5,000.
Philip Erbland, M.M.
M any years ago a friend and I, as members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, made a mercy home visit. Inside the home was a young woman with her two toddlers. There was no food. There was no furniture. There was no hope, at least not to me. I thought that it would take a lot more than what little we could offer to help this family! My friend, on the other hand, was hopeful for this family and was happy with whatever we could do to help.
Years later at a high school football game I was introduced to a mature, strong woman. Proudly, she cheered, as her two star sons played under the bright lights. Her name and the names of her two sons were all at once familiar to me. I realized that this was the same family my friend and I had assisted through the St. Vincent de Paul Society. I pictured again my older and wiser friend and his confidence in this family’s future. That was the “mercy moment” I could now see bearing fruit.
O n my flight from California to Honolulu to see my son Greg, who had been severely injured in a bicycle accident, I was tapped on the shoulder by a woman seated behind me. She said she heard me tell a flight attendant about my son’s injury. She told me that her mother had an apartment in Honolulu that she was not using for a month and I was welcome to use it. I stayed for a month, rent-free and was able to visit my comatose son daily.
When two of his college friends came to Honolulu, they each stayed in the apartment for two weeks and were able to visit my son daily.
Greg is now in a skilled nursing facility near our home in San Jose, Calif. He has a closed head injury but is neither angry nor bitter. Instead, he feels his mission is to make people happy, which he does every day.
Our family experienced double mercy moments from this tragedy in the incredible kindness and generosity of a fellow passenger and a third mercy moment in that our son has adjusted so well to his difficult circumstances.
All this happened more than 22 years ago, and we still thank God for His mercy.
Susan T. Shelton
San Jose, California
I ’m sitting at my job staffing the front desk at a dorm at Syracuse University, where I’m a student, and I can’t leave my post. A student who doesn’t know me at all, on her way to the vending machine, stops and asks me if I need or want anything. Such an act of kindness from a stranger caught me by surprise but made my day. It reminded me a little mercy can go a long way.
Abigael F. Monahan
Ossining, New York
Please share your Mercy Moments. Send them to: Maryknoll Magazine Mercy Moments, P.O. Box 302, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0302 or email email@example.com and write Mercy Moments in the subject line.
Featured Image: S. Sprague/Peru