A Jubilee of Mercy – Part 5

Francis jubilee of Mercy - feetIt is obvious that Pope Francis is calling us as a Church to be a people of pardon and merciful love. The witness of his life and teaching demonstrate the tremendous impact that we make in the lives of those who watch us. Yes, the world certainly is watching Pope Francis. He is prompting enemies to speak to each another and challenging nations to explore ways to achieve peace. He is inviting people to look at and treat each other as brothers and sisters created in the image and likeness of God. He is drawing people closer to Christ by the genuine simplicity of his words and actions.

I think he is challenging us to remember that the world is watching all of us. Wondering, as it watches, what impact does our relationship with the Jesus Christ have on the way we embrace the rhythm of life. This gives us the ability to change the hearts and lives of those who watch us!

This certainly happened this past Sunday when Cuban President Raul Castro paid a call on Pope Francis. The two of them had a private conversation that lasted over an hour. After leaving the Vatican, Castro gushed with praise of Pope Francis. “I read all the speeches of the pope, his commentaries, and if the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church, and I’m not joking.” I doubt that anyone expected to hear the leader of a Communist country, who has been sharply criticized by the Vatican, make such a statement. If the gift of mercy, evident in the life and teaching of Pope Francis, can soften his heart – imagine what it can do with the hearts of others.

Perhaps this is why Pope Francis wrote: “It is my burning desire, that during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. . . . Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples. . . . We cannot escape the Lord’s words to us, and they will serve as the criteria upon which we will be judged.”

The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are actions we can perform that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need. Maybe now is a good time to recall what they are, and to ask: “How good am I at integrating them into the way I am living? Do people see them in the way I live?”

The corporal works of mercy are the kinds of actions by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.  Feeding the hungry; quenching the thirsty; sheltering the homeless; clothing the naked; caring for the sick; visiting the imprisoned; and burying the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are acts of compassion by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs. Instructing the ignorant; advising the sinners; consoling those in doubt; comforting the afflicted; forgiving those who offend; bearing patiently with those who wrong us; and praying for the living and the dead.

Pope Francis has said that the face of mercy is evidence of God’s action in our lives.

These corporal and spiritual works of mercy are ways that all of us can reveal the face of God to those who watch us.

With today’s blog, I end this series of reflections on the “Jubilee of Mercy.” As we anticipate the Jubilee, don’t forget that it will be a time for the entire church to “make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy.” Between now and the opening of the Jubilee on December 8, 2015 – pray for the grace to “live out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us.”

Finally, remember that the official website of the “Jubilee of Mercy” is the place to go for information about this jubilee. That website “uses a number of social networks through which we will be provided updates on the Holy Father’s initiative and follow in real time the major events as they take place.”

Question – are you willing to share with us the ways that you are integrating one or two of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy into you daily life?


May 13th, 2015 |