The Fatigue of Mercy

Year of Mercy - #mercymattersWe’re nearing the halfway mark for the Year of Mercy, and for those of us regularly tapped into the Catholic world, all this talk of mercy can start to feel tiring. Even the demands of mercy can be tiring: trying to live out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, giving attention to those in need—all of it can be very exhausting.

My fatigue of mercy is made apparent when my wife’s heavy workload moves me to carry some extra household duties, or when the same person continues, week after week, to come to us in need, or when I have to put down what I’m doing to listen to someone who just needs an ear. In his Divine Mercy Sunday homily, Pope Francis said, “Being apostles of mercy means touching and soothing the wounds that today afflict the bodies and souls of many of our brothers and sisters.” Yes, we must do it. It’s our call as Christians. We are “bearers of [Christ’s] peace,” the Pope reminds us. We cannot deny the burden of mercy.

As ministers, my wife and I often talk about the burden of ministry. We are entrusted to help carry the burdens and brokenness of the people we serve. This is mercy, and it never is complete. Like Scripture, mercy is living; we can draw so much out of it. And despite the fatigue it may bring to us in living its call, Pope Francis reminds us that “God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires.” And we can find strength in this, turning our fatigue into the joy of living the Gospel daily, alongside the One who does the work of mercy with us.


  1. A year after the death of my closest friend over fifty years died-I was her carer-I am still exhausted-yes deep grief and problems with a disability of my own-but the burden of responsibility lifted I am still exhausted.I find Ignatian spirituality of great help,especially reading Karl Rahner.

  2. It’s IS exhausting because I have to pay attention to others’ needs.
    Thanks for reminding me of my many blessings.

  3. Our focus on mercy this year has encouraged me to think about mercy more as a way of being than individual acts. When I think of it that way, then I can’t just say to myself “well I will cut out a few of those so that I don’t get worn out”. Which is to say yes, it is exhausting!

  4. On a retreat about 10 years ago, I realized that to be whole in Christ, we must embrace the whole Christ — Christ the healer, the teacher, the one who fed the multitudes (through the ages), but also Christ in the least of our brethren. In other words, the dynamic of giving and receiving are part of the imitating Christ. Be open to ways God wants to touch you with his mercy through others!


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