THE FACE OF MERCY: Stories and Reflections from the streets of New York
“Jesus Christ reveals the face of the Father’s mercy.” (Pope Francis)
“Of You my heart has spoken: Seek His Face.” (Psalm 27)
I am a missionary with LAMP Catholic Ministries. I came because I was at a transition point in my life, and I wanted to grow. I wanted to learn how to better relate to others. I wanted to become more passionate about Jesus. I wanted to learn something from the poor.
What I have experienced is Christ. I have glimpsed His Face. His suffering Face. His joyful Face. His grateful Face. His sincere Face. His hungry Face. His lonely Face. His transparent Face. His simple Face. His kind Face. His poor Face. His humble Face. His transfigured Face. His radiant Face. His Face full of faith, hope, and love.
In other words, I have seen the Face of Mercy.
What follows is an attempt at a description of the features of the Face of Christ that I am slowly beginning to recognize. This is the Face that He has graciously begun to reveal to me.
All is gift. I write this as an expression of my gratitude for the gift of this time, and for all those persons – for each face – I have been privileged to encounter.
One morning, I was in the Port Authority bus terminal with another LAMP missionary, inviting the various homeless persons there to our weekly fellowship at Holy Cross Church. We approached a tall disheveled man wearing a backpack. After first introducing ourselves, we asked his name. His response? “It doesn’t matter.”
I write this also in honor of all those who feel they do not matter – those whose faces are lost in a sea of people and no longer have a name. When he visited New York in September 2015, Pope Francis noted how “so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no ‘right’ to be there, no right to be part of the city.” But Christ gives each of us a name. And a face.
I now know that man’s name, and I hope that I never forget it.
His name is Christ.
His Face is Christ.
He is Christ.
February 2, 2016 – Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy – Bronx, New York