Dear OSJ Family,
As many of you know, Pope Francis has declared 2016 as the Jubilee Year of Mercy!
“At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.” – Pope Francis
Notably, the Year of Mercy begins on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and ends with the Feast of Christ the King, 2016.
All this talk of mercy, raises a serious question, what is mercy?
Jesuit Father James F. Keenan says, “Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” That about sums it up! And understanding this, mercy then is needed in so many segments of our lives and in so many areas of our world! In truth we all need to both give and receive mercy. Why else do we begin each and every Mass praying “Lord Have Mercy!? In this Jubilee Year, the pope recommends that we better practice works of mercy. Practicing the corporal works of mercy is one sure way to do this. Corporal works are the works that affect one’s physical well being. They are: to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; to ransom the captive; and to bury the dead.
These are paired with the spiritual works of mercy, which are to aid one’s spiritual growth. The Church teaches that they are: to instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offences willingly; to comfort the afflicted and to pray for the living and the dead.
Sometimes, when we think of the word mercy, we imagine someone on their knees before a tyrannical king or queen, begging to be spared their life or absolved of some cruel punishment. This is not our understanding of God’s mercy. We do not ask for God’s mercy because we fear that God will punish us for our sins or abandon us because of human weaknesses. No. When we call on God to grant us His mercy, we are calling on God in the only way we know him—as one who responds with compassion and kindness to those who call on Him. When we extend mercy to others, we are responding as God responds, with compassion and kindness.
Lets us work together to show mercy and to receive mercy and in doing so to give God the Glory and Honor that God deserves! Blessings to all in this holy year of Mercy!
With my esteem and prayers,
© 2015 Fr. Philip A. Florio, S.J.