The Lasting Effects of ‘The Year of Mercy’
The Year of Mercy was a special year dedicated to living out the mercy of Jesus Christ in a greater way. It has been more than two years since the Holy Father came to visit my own city, Philadelphia, where he did Mass for a crowd of almost a million people from many parts of the country. I am so blessed to tell you that my family and I were in attendance at that Mass. I will always remember the great crowd of the faithful attendees and the beautiful Mass and homily. Most of all I will remember the very presence of the Holy Father as he passed by. “The Year of Mercy” was quite special to the city of Philadelphia, to our country and to my family and me. We are still feeling the effects of the blessing of the Pope visiting our city. The message given by Francis is still deep in my heart. I imagine telling the same story in my old age years from now of how the Holy Father visited Philadelphia.
Abandoning our Condemnation of Others
Each Pope seems to have a special message; Francis chose “mercy” as a dominant theme during 2015. I think he continues to show us that mercy is still at the very forefront of his message to us from the Lord. In a homily in 2013, Pope Francis explained”:
It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! … “Oh, I am a great sinner!” “All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things!” He forgets, He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, He kisses you, He embraces you and He simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:11). — Homily on March 17, 2013
The mercy of Jesus himself which is the gift he gave us when he died for our sins. This is a gift God still gives to us at every single moment. At the height is our receiving God’s own Body and Blood through the Holy Eucharist. Through the awesome gift of the Catholic faith and the sacraments, we are continually receiving God’s mercy and forgiveness. Life is difficult, but God’s mercy is our safeguard and our protection in the storms.
The Holy Father stated in a recent homily, “Let us abandon a language of condemnation and embrace one of mercy” (September 19, 2017). When we look at the sins and faults of others and condemn, we cannot receive the mercy God has for us. We must look inside ourselves. People will hurt us, abandon us, gossip about us and lie to us, but to live close to the Lord we must not condemn. This seems impossible to do but when we quiet our minds, breathe slowly and feel His Presence, we can ask the Holy Spirit to fill us. We can be assured when we ask the Spirit to come closer to us, God will be right there. Giving our sins to God in Confession will help to rid ourselves of the dirt we collect on our souls through life. The process of being inside of God’s mercy and close to Him will begin to happen when we abandon the condemnation we have for other human beings especially those who have hurt us deeply.
Embracing God’s mercy is a spectacular gift that makes all things new.
Even though we have suffered much pain and rejection by some in our lives, it doesn’t matter in the end. God can make it “all right again” through His mercy. The lasting effects of that wonderful “Year of Mercy” in 2015 are still with us. Embracing God’s mercy is lifelong. It is for all of us.
Let us remember the importance of living mercy each day and in small ways. Those small ways are actually very big. We live these ways out through the virtues we receive in our Baptism and Confirmation. They are very real, but we need to call on the Holy Spirit to ignite the flame in our souls. At this time in history, mercy and love is the tool we need to evangelize the world and especially our country. May the Lord heal us of condemnation and allow us to show others His mercy and love.