A girl, who is currently an advocate against juvenile incarceration, told a story of the experience that changed her life forever, confirming her decision to become an advocate for juveniles.
A case was brought to the court where she was an intern. It was about a teen who shot and killed another teen during a drug hit. He was arrested, judged and put in jail. The mother of the murdered teen, who was heartbroken at the death of her only son, came to virtually all the hearings leading to the sentencing of the juvenile. After periods of mourning, she decided to pay a visit to the incarcerated teen at the juvenile prison.
The boy didn’t want to see her. She kept coming, delivering gifts to the boy in prison anonymously. In the meantime, every year, she petitioned the judge, pleading for the boy’s release. She kept this on for years. Like the biblical story of the wicked judge and a widow; she wouldn’t give up hope for release of the boy.
As God’s grace many times surprises us, an opportunity came for a miracle. The governor of the state asked the judge to give him names for governor’s amnesty. Since the woman kept bugging the judge, the woman’s request was the first on the list. Finally, in the end, the boy was set free.
Guess who received the boy at the gates of the prison when the humongous, scary gates were opened? It was the woman. The boy wouldn’t follow her. She pleaded for a brief time for a lunch, after which the boy could say a final goodbye.
Reluctantly, the boy, who was constantly tormented by the guilt and unworthiness of facing the mom of someone he murdered, consented, on the condition that after lunch, she wouldn’t try to look for him again. Deal, but no deal.
During the lunch, the woman made her own request: “I will let you be if you can grant me this one request,” she pleaded. “Would you be my son?”
The stoic heart of the boy couldn’t contain the volume of the woman’s compassion and mercy. It had reached the tipping point of mercy-grace. Sobbing like a baby (not sure if he has ever cried), the boy mumbled: “No way. I killed your son…” “I did this and did that…”
The woman wouldn’t allow him to go on and on with the litany of depressing violent gang stories. Mercy overlooks the past; it’s about the moment.
“I know. I was in court throughout the hearings.” The woman went on to explain she has heard it all. “Yes, I have no son anymore because you killed him. You are not safe either. You have no family, no mom, and no dad; no one except the gang that put you in this mess in the first place. Would you please be my son? I need a son and I choose you. You need a mom, a family, don’t you? Please choose me.”
It was an eerie and painful moment for both the woman and the boy, who had been with the violent gang group all his life. Tears flowed like the sea of Araba, while the grace of healing was lavish.
To cut the story short, the boy became her son. She sent him to school, away from the gang circle (an excellent thing to do). Today, he is one of the top managers in a
Fortune 500 American company, earning a salary in seven figures.
This life story isn’t a parable. It has many more details than I can script here. It’s a true example of mercy, a heroic kind. You may have your objections about the bold step taken by the woman, and argue why this and why that.
Nevertheless, the evidence her merciful heart paid is: She saved a juvenile from the gangs. She has allowed mercy to trump. Her empathy and mercy for a teen ravaged by the violence of drug gangs has won a child back to wholeness. She, in turn, has someone she calls son.
Mercy brings about 360° closure and reconciliation. Mercy is one key to human wholeness. Mercy is true to its name because the culpable is accepted despite him or her.
Mercy has a way of facilitating healing and warming hearts, and the healing it ushers endures.
The Lord’s instruction to his disciples and to us is ever relevant: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
On this 11th Day of Lent, we pray for mercy. Notwithstanding the hurt, may we reach out with the heart of compassion and the hand of mercy. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Second Week of Lent A]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.