The Father

Charlie Chaplin's, The Kid (1921)
Years ago, I organized a retreat for a group of actors who were about to perform a Passion Play. I called a nearby convent and the nun who answered told me that she and her sisters would be more than happy to host us. She asked me, “Is there a theme you would like to focus on? Any particular topic you would prefer to deal with?” “Yes,” I said, “Divine Mercy”. It was [2016] the year of the Divine Mercy and I thought that focusing on what exactly God’s mercy meant would help me and the actors better understand the love God has for us.

When the day of the retreat came, we all drove to the convent. It was a peaceful place with plenty of natural beauty that encouraged prayer and meditation. I would arrive late because there were a few things I had to take care of at work that same morning. When I finally did get there, I noticed that the person who was supposed to buy lunch for everyone, hadn’t done so and I took it upon myself to drive out to the grocery store. I was upset that my work had kept me from missing the morning talk and that I had to go out of my way to buy food for everyone. While at the store I thought to myself, How am I supposed to enjoy the retreat when I’m over here running errands? My heart was restless. I bought sandwiches and drinks and then drove back to the convent.

When I got back, lunch time had already passed. I had taken too long at the store and now the nuns had invited the actors into the main prayer room for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As they settled in and filled the small room, I noticed that there would be no place for me inside so I stepped outside and knelt by one of the windows. I wouldn’t be able to see the Monstrance from where I was, but I would be able hear the prayer of one of the sisters who said, “Let us pray to the Father in heaven and ask Him to heal the wounds caused by our earthly father. Say, ‘Father, I forgive you. Father, I forgive you. Father, I forgive you...’”. 

My eyes were closed, but I could hear what seemed to be the sound of someone crying far away. I wanted to look and see who it was, but I decided to focus on the prayer. Suddenly, I heard the steps of someone rushing past me; they carried the weeping along with them. I heard a voice inside of me say, Go to him, but again I decided to ignore the weeping and focus on the prayer. Go to him, I heard the interior voice say again, but I really didn’t want to disturb the moment of deep prayer. I thought about it for a few seconds, but eventually opened my eyes, got on my feet and followed the sound of what had by then become wailing.

As I walked toward the entrance of the convent, I saw a little boy sitting on the stairs in a fetal position. His head was buried between his crossed arms. Tell him God loves him, the voice inside of me seemed to tell me. I was hesitant to say anything, but I sat right next to him, put my arm around his shoulder and said out loud, “You’re a good boy. God loves you.” Immediately the boy began to cry harder. I couldn’t help but feel the deep pain he was experiencing, and I began to cry along with him.

As the tears ran down my face, I asked myself - Why I am crying? I understood at that moment that God had sent me to this young kid. But why?, I asked myself further. The answer came back to me immediately – Because I have compassion for himI began to have a type of inner dialogue. But what drove you to compassion?, I asked the voice. God appeared to say, The misery of humanity drives my compassion.

At that very moment, everything became clear to me. God loves his children so much that when one of us suffers, He can’t help but suffer along with us. That is to say, God has compassion for us. In response to our misery, God runs toward us and embraces us. His love surpasses our misery, pain and suffering. This is why He is a Merciful God.

The more miserable our humanity seems, the more abundant His Divine Mercy.

Edgar Avendano @latinofilmmaker