Luke Stocking

Luke Stocking

Stocking is Development and Peace Deputy Director of Public Awareness & Engagement, Ontario and Atlantic Regions.

Misericordia! I feel this word as a deep cry from my soul in response to these troubled times of unspeakable horror.

Pope Francis in addressing the National Confederation of the ‘Misericordie’ of Italy said, “This word misericordia — mercy — is a Latin word whose etymological meaning is ‘miseris cor dare,’ to ‘give the heart to the wretched,’ those in need, those who are suffering.”

We are last to push off from the shore into Oxbow Lake. I am in a canoe with Steph and Ava, two high school students from the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Ahead of us are 30 other TCDSB students ranging from Grades 10-12. For many of them it is their first time paddling a canoe. We are bringing up the rear to ensure no one goes astray. Leading the pack at the front is Greg Rogers, founder of this week-long Catholic Leadership program at Camp Olympia near Huntsville, Ont. He is taking us all to see Jesus.

Something that my faith has instilled in me is a simple phrase, “it is never too late.” No matter how bad things are, no matter what has happened — there is nothing and no one beyond redemption through the infinite love and mercy of God. It is, I think, a radical aspect of our faith. All that is required, we are told again and again, is to say “Yes” to the invitation to experience that love and mercy.

It is not a long road that leads us to justice — it is a mighty river that flows to a faraway sea. It flows more quickly at some times than at others. There are also twists and turns and perilous rapids. Roads and rivers are both long. But unlike a road — which we may or may not take — a river is inevitable. Resistance against it is impossible. 

This is an Easter story for this Easter season. It is set in a cemetery, spans several decades past and many more into the future.

She walks into the room, and I see she is wearing a very familiar straw hat with a coloured band. I have seen the hat, and its owner, a thousand times: in our Share Lent poster, our mini-magazine, and countless other campaign images — even my e-mail signature. It is like she has walked right out of an image and into our lives — incarnate for us.

Every so often a song comes into my life that makes me cry in a flood of deep spiritual emotion. The latest one made my wife cry first. She heard it at a performance where our kid is a Grade 12 student at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. It was a choral rendition of Low Lily’s song “Hope Lingers On,” arranged by Andrea Ramsey. She inspired an online search for it. This article is best read to that soundtrack.

The human person “is not a lost atom in a random universe.” Rather, each of us is “God’s creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom He has always loved.” 

A simple stable is where God chooses to be born into the world, a helpless infant child. Many Christian households display creches with baby Jesus figurines as part of Advent preparations for Christmas.  There is another kind of “stable” though where Jesus wants to be present as this particular Christmas approaches, the stabilization centres of Somalia. 

Communion, Participation and Mission are the three key words the Vatican has outlined for the synodal process. My last column was the first of a three-part series that tells the tale of living synodality through these three key words. The tale continues this month — moving on to the key word  “participation.”

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