A World-Wide Celebration
On December 8, 2015, Pope Francis declared the current liturgical year to be a celebration of God’s mercy by proclaiming it as “The Year of Mercy”. This worldwide celebration of our Church ends on November 20, 2016. Although “The Year of Mercy” will end, there is great hope that all the good it produced will have lasting effects. We have been in a special time for the entire world to show the love of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis has spoken much about the importance of showing God’s mercy. Mercy is the gateway to bringing the love of Christ to the whole world. Throughout this year the Pope has offered us much insight into mercy in his homilies and various other outlets.
The Lord’s Most Powerful Message: Mercy
The Holy Father made the following statement during a homily a few years back on the message of mercy:
“I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, we like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think – and I say it with humility – that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.”
Pondering mercy is something that takes not only our minds but our hearts. When we reflect on our lives and on how God has provided for us in both good and bad times, the Holy Spirit reveals more of His love. The Holy Spirit helps us to see the “big picture” despite the difficulties we encounter. When we take the time to ponder God’s goodness, we can know His mercy in a deeper way. It is only through this lens that we see reality. Humility and mercy can enter into our souls once this happens. We can then be a great light to others. As Francis states “this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy”. As we take the time to pray and reflect, we can offer love and mercy to others in an authentic way that attracts people to God’s heart.
Increasing Harmony Through Avoiding Gossip
In “The Church of Mercy” Pope Francis stated:
“Let each one ask him – herself today, “Do I increase harmony in my family, in my parish, in my community, or am I a gossip? Am I a cause of division or embarrassment? And you know the harm that gossiping does to the Church, to the parishes, the communities. Gossip does harm! Gossip wounds. Before Christians open their mouths to gossip, they should bite their tongue! To bite one’s tongue: this does us good because the tongue swells and can no longer speak, cannot gossip.”
A great deal of harmony can come from avoiding gossip and watching how we treat others through how we use our words. Avoiding negative talk about people, reaching out to those in need and becoming more sacrificial are excellent ways to bring others God’s love. Love is the greatest force in the world, and with the Holy Spirit, we can overcome gossip and negativity. As Pope Francis stated, “gossip wounds”. The opposite of wounding is healing. A great prayer for this year and beyond is showing the love of God through healing and reaching out to others.
Evangelizing Through Mercy
“To evangelize, therefore, it is necessary to open ourselves once again to the horizon of God’s Spirit, without being afraid of what he asks us or of where he leads us.” – “The Church of Mercy”.
Once we have received God’s love in our hearts, we are compelled to share that love with others. Making the most of this “Year of Mercy”, we can pray about extending ourselves to evangelize. Sometimes when we think of the word “evangelize, the idea of trying really hard to get other people to see our point of view and “join the faith” comes to mind.
In reality, evangelizing must be about sharing the love of God in a sincere way that welcomes everyone to the Church to experience God’s mercy. If we are not authentic and real about offering love to others, then we will fail in our efforts evangelize. Mercy is about introducing others to the love of God so they feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit and decide to become a follower of Christ. Adding care and hospitality makes our efforts authentic and truly good.
Never Tire of Being Merciful
“Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful.” – “The Church of Mercy”.
When we ourselves have been blessed by mercy, we have the ability to people capable of showing real love to the world. Living out love in our families, workplaces, Churches, schools and everywhere in between, we can reach out to those who feel rejected by the world. As the Pope has stated, “The Church is a mission hospital” where the lost and rejected can find a home. The Church is for everyone. Mercy has no age limits, it is “color blind” and it is for people of all backgrounds. Jesus is the answer to all the world’s problems through his sacrifice on the cross for humankind. The Catholic Church is “universal” and now is the time to offer our love to the world in this graced “Year of Mercy”.
Prayer for the Conclusion of “The Year of Mercy”
Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessings of “The Year of Mercy” and for your timely offering to the world for your Son’s mercy. Please bless the world as we try to make the most of this blessed time as we offer people the love you have for everyone. Help us to become people of love and sacrifice. We lift our prayers for our Holy Father Pope Francis in his attempts to bring peace and mercy to the world. Jesus, we love you, and we ask for the intercession of your Mother Mary and all the Angels and Saints. Amen.