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Listening for Lambs: Divine Mercy Unscripted

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Recently I was having a particularly busy day at work. It was the day before spring break, which would be Holy Week, and the day of a charity book sale I was in charge of organizing. I was trying to teach my classes, get the book sale running smoothly and finish grading all of my students' papers so that I could spend Holy Week in prayer and rest instead of work.

At the beginning of one of my few non-teaching periods, I rushed into my classroom to start carrying books downstairs to the sale and found one of my students waiting in tears. There was a teacher with her who had found the student crying in the hall. It had turned out that the counselor was not available, and when the teacher had asked this student if there was another adult she would talk to, she had named me.

My first thoughts were not at all Christlike. What a day for the counselor to be busy! What a time for a student to need me! I was too busy organizing a charity event and preparing myself for Holy Week to help this girl, but something made me hush those thoughts and say, "Of course." I thanked the teacher and invited my student to sit down. In the end, a couple of custodians came to carry the books downstairs for me; some PTA parents took care of the book sale; and my student left the classroom smiling. I thought I had known what I needed to do with the time I had that period; I had assumed that God's will would be for me to work at this charity fundraiser and to clear my schedule for Holy Week, but He asked me to refocus my attention. He brought me one of His little lambs and asked me to feed her.

The director of a retreat I once attended pointed out that Jesus' life was a string of interruptions. He tried to enjoy a wedding feast with His friends and was interrupted by His mother's concern for the host's lack of wine. He tried to preach and was interrupted numerous times by people in need of healing for themselves or their loved ones. He tried to get away for rest and quiet prayer and was interrupted by the crowd following Him. In all of these cases, Jesus was so moved to compassion that He dropped what He was doing and scooped up the little sheep that was bleating at His feet. That's what servanthood looks like, and that's what we are all called to. After all, Jesus told us that if we love Him, we will feed His lambs. He never promised that they wouldn't get hungry at inconvenient times.

Wherever and however we spend this year's Divine Mercy Sunday, maybe as part of our preparation we can pray for that readiness to be interrupted, keeping in mind that God will help us to do everything we really need to do. Even St. Faustina worried that she would not find time to write the Diary as Jesus commanded her, but He assured her, "It is not for you to think about that. Only do as much as you can, and I will always arrange things so that you will easily be able to do what I ask of you ..." (Diary, 1693).

Of course, we don't always know what God will ask of us, and that's why we need to be open to disruptions to our own plans, trusting that He always has us where we need to be. If God needs us to be on Eden Hill, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, this Sunday, He will get us there. If, however, what He really needs is for us to stay at home so we'll be available for that unexpected visit or phone call from one of His lost lambs, we shouldn't be too surprised if the transmission breaks just as we're pulling out of the driveway.

But let's not forget that if our plans are disrupted by the bleating of one of the Lord's sheep, that disruption will be what is best not only for that sheep but for us, too. I did end up grading papers during Holy Week, and because of that I missed at least one Good Friday event I had really wanted to attend. And yet, the fact that I was doing necessary work I didn't want to be doing felt special to me precisely because of what day it was. I was tired from my fast and disappointed about staying home, so I knew I was being given a chance to unite my little sufferings with Jesus' Passion. I never would have guessed it, but grading during Holy Week turned out to be part of God's plan for how I would get a little closer to Him during this year's Triduum.

With Divine Mercy Sunday upon us, let's prepare and make our plans with the faith that what needs to happen will happen: not only the things we foresee but those little surprises that are signs of God working through us and in us for our own salvation and that of the whole world.

Marian Tascio is a writer and English teacher who lives in Yonkers, N.Y.

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Jean - Apr 18, 2007

Thank you for sharing it is comforting to know that we all share the same struggles but also more important we also can share in Jesus,s redeeming love of mankind. May God Bless you.

Ava - Apr 15, 2007

good article sent it to my daughter as this is one of her struggles

Pam - Apr 13, 2007

sounds like we had the same week