The Year of Mercy – Part 3

FeaturedThe is the final week that I will repeating some pieces of the blog series that I wrote in the spring of 2015 on the “Year of Mercy.” While it may have been a littler repetitive, my hope is that helped us to refocus on what this “Year of Mercy” is all about.  Also, digging into my “blog vault” in this manner enabled me to be away over the last two weeks on vacation!

As we began the “Jubilee of Mercy” we were cautioned not to compare it to the Great Jubilee Year of 2000 – which celebrated the beginning of the third millennium. The history of Jubilees has been marked by their occurrence every 50 or 25 years. This Jubilee is different in its scope and focus because it is based upon a theme – mercy; and not a period of time of a specific event. Mercy, so important to Pope Francis, will serve as the focus of all of the activities that will be part of this year-long celebration from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.

The “Jubilee of Mercy” is a time for the entire church to “make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy.” This challenge to be a witness of mercy flows from our baptismal call to holiness – and should be evident in the way we live out our vocational calling.

The motto of the Jubilee Year is Like the Merciful Father, taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36. It “serves as an invitation to follow the example of the merciful Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to give forgiveness and love without measure.”

The “Jubilee of Mercy” prayer and logo feature Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The logo was designed to express “the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love that has the power to change one’s life.”

The image, created by Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, has the eyes of Jesus merged with the man’s to show how “Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, his or her own humanity and the future that lies ahead.” And the three ovals, with colors progressively becoming lighter as they move outward, “suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the darkness of sin and death.”

It 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 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 all of 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!

Perhaps this is why Pope Francis wrote: “It is my burning desire, that during this Jubilee Year, 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 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.

In closing, remember that the official website of the “Jubilee of Mercy” is the place to go for information throughout this Jubilee Year. 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.”

Suggestion – take a little time this week to check out the website of the Jubilee of Mercy, found at www.im.va.

January 27th, 2016 |