In a very short time two of the beautiful couples at our church who celebrated their marriage anniversaries this past year became a widow and the other a widower. Last night our children's great-grandfather passed away and left his wife of many years a widow. It is easy to understand why Christ mentions widows so much in the Gospels.  In fact, Christ has always revealed a very tender side of his Sacred and Merciful Heart in his commitment to those who find themselves alone and vulnerable.  How important this message is for our families today in a world that often overlooks the true needs of those who are lonely, terminally-ill, or disabled!

Pope Francis’ intention for the month of March expressed: “That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.” The Holy Father additionally warns against a “false sense of compassion” that is confusing people about what human dignity actually requires for those who are suffering. This is clearly seen in the current debates around our world to legalize doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia. 

Our Holy Father points out the tragedy that takes place when authentic support and compassion are replaced by a self-interested form of “care.” This issue should gain our attention particularly during this month of March when we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph known also as the patron of a happy death. We might take some time to notice and pray for the countless acts of heroic fidelity and love serving as living examples in our own families and churches today. Like our children’s great-grandfather, we can see clearly God’s tenderness in caring for him through his wife during his prolonged illness and death. We can understand a little more now why God desires special protection for those who remained faithful to their own Holy Covenant but now find themselves alone. 

God in his mercy is called the "Defender of Widows." We can only imagine the hardships and challenges of those called to imitate God. What a beautiful work of mercy it is to reach out to those in our families who have lost a spouse, or simply are alone. We are each so busy in our lives, drowning with things to do, it is very hard to slow down, stop and realize how many beautiful people are looking for community, fellowship, and love. 

Grandpa had a quick decline over the winter. His winter garden is past ready to be harvested. The plants have gone to seed—a constant reminder that he is not here to tend his beloved garden. Things changed quickly at the home they loved. Ryan told his grandmother while we were leaving, “you know we are going to spoil you now!” Her response was with a little smile on her face was, “I’m okay with being spoiled!”

What is God calling me to do? What is God calling you to do for those he has put in your life? God often calls us to do very small things as acts of mercy. Sometimes he even gives us hints. Mercy is not glamorous. We must simply slow down to see them and ask God to open our eyes to the many opportunities for mercy right in front of us.

Do something beautiful for Jesus!