Today’s Gospel of the woman at the well is one of my favorites. Jesus knew everything about her, everything that she had done – and loved her. The woman, who may have had a shameful past, went to the well at noon when no others would be there, and Jesus, man and a Jew, spoke to her about God’s love; the water of eternal life. How she must have felt when Jesus turned his loving attention on her!
The charism of mercy empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s love through hands-on, practical deeds of compassion that relieve the distress of those who suffer and help them experience God’s love. Disciples with this charism are drawn to people who may be ignored or rejected by society. They identify with the pain of those who are suffering or oppressed and seek to comfort them with the love of Jesus through their actions. Though they feel the pain of others deeply, they do not find working with the needy depressing or draining but rather compelling and fulfilling. They feel privileged to be allowed to minister to the poor and readily see and delight in the greatness of heart and soul that those who suffer often possess.
Possible expressions of this charism include social worker, missionary, prison minister, social justice activist, food pantry or shelter volunteer, pastoral worker or medical professional. If the Holy Spirit has granted you this special gift, you will not be content organizing or merely supporting assistance efforts, you will be drawn to hands-on service for relieving the suffering of others. If this describes you, the world is desperately in need of you and your gift.
Vicki Compton is the Coordinator of Faith Formation and Mission at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Illinois.