His Suffering Face

THE FACE OF MERCY: Stories and Reflections from the streets of New York

“Jesus Christ reveals the face of the Father’s mercy.” (Pope Francis)

Of You my heart has spoken: Seek His Face.” (Psalm 27)

March 3, 2016

Shana* is a bright young woman and a very devoted single mom. She lost her own mother at a young age. Her dad dealt with his grief by becoming an alcoholic. Now the father of Shana’s child neglects them both. She has not had an easy life.

Shana is beautiful and sweet. There are very few people in her life that she is able or willing to trust. She is urgently in need of unconditional love and healing. We have had the privilege of getting to know her in the shelter for over a year now.

Shana is one of the few Catholics we know. Even though, like many other Catholics, her religious formation is limited, this fact alone made me feel bonded to her in a particular way from the beginning.

Our conversations often leave me without any words. We listen to her describe her pain, her suffering, her attempts to “just stay positive”. We read Scripture with her, do our best to point her to Jesus, and simply remind her that she is loved. Despite all the circumstances that threaten to obscure the Father’s love, that love remains a Fact.

It’s true, Shana.

He’s real. He’s faithful. He loves you.

I promise.

Sometimes my words start to sound empty.

But His Word is never empty.

Several months ago, we were having a visit with Shana. At the end of our time, I remembered a blessed crucifix I was carrying in my bag. We had actually planned to give it to another special young woman that day, but had just discovered that she had moved from the shelter. I pulled the crucifix out and asked Shana if she might want it – a reminder that Jesus has “been there” and that He is there, always, in all her suffering.

I removed it from the box and handed it to her. Shana received it and said softly, “This is so beautiful! I never had anything like this before….Thank you. Thank you so much.”

That crucifix now hangs on her wall.

And His love speaks louder than words.

– LAMP Missionary Kirsten Goza