Divine Mercy on the Willis Avenue Bridge
Last week on Good Friday, I was driving to the South Bronx from East Harlem to attend the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion with our community at St. Adalbert’s Church. I was on my own because I had dropped off the sisters I live with at St. Joseph Friary for the Way of the Cross procession down 145thStreet. I passed over the East River on the Willis Avenue Bridge and stopped at the traffic light near the Amoco gas station. I could see ahead of me a young man in a gray hoodie with dyed green hair holding a sign – he was begging for food. As he approached my car, I gave him a friendly wave to get his attention. I rolled down my window and handed him one of our “car packs” – a Ziploc bag with some cheese crackers, a Capri Sun juice drink, a granola bar, a Rosary and a Divine Mercy holy card.
My heart is always deeply moved with compassion for all the many people, young and old, men and women, who beg on the highways, bridges and streets of New York City. This day, being Good Friday, my heart was even more deeply touched by this young man’s poverty, apparent loneliness and desperation. As he received the car pack, I said to him, “I will pray for you!” He responded, “Thank you, thank you!” I continued, “Jesus died for you, and He loves you very much!” He responded again with gentle sincerity, “Thank you, thank you!” The car behind me honked to get me to move on and so I made my way through the intersection only to stop again at the next set of traffic lights not that far down the road. As I waited there, I looked in my side mirror and saw the young man with the dyed green hair looking at the car pack intently. The Divine Mercy holy card was face up in the Ziploc bag, and I thought he must be looking at the image. Jesus spoke of this image to St. Faustina saying, “My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the Cross.” Then, to my surprise, for I have never experienced anything quite like this before, the young man with the dyed green hair bent his knee right there on the street corner to genuflect and made the sign of the cross. He then stood up, turned around and started begging again.
This act of worship and of love for Our Lord Jesus reminded me of what we were about to enter into during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 3 p.m. The young man with the dyed green hair, whose name I did not get and who probably did not enter a church last Good Friday, had his own Adoration of the Holy Cross near the Amoco gas station on the Willis Avenue Bridge in the South Bronx. And for me this will be an unforgettable reminder that no one will ever be excluded from the mercy of God.
“My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the Cross.” (Diary of Divine Mercy #326)
Come, let us adore.
Sr. Catherine Mary, CFR