On December the 8th, the day when we celebrate Mary, protected from sin from the moment of her Conception, the Church also begins its keeping of the Year of Mercy.
In this Jubilee Year, Pope Francis calls the Church to focus on mercy, for mercy takes us to the very heart of God who is love. God is not love in abstract, as an idea only. God is love in action. God does not just talk about it: he does it.
One of the key scriptural texts is the parable of the finding of the lost sheep, and that gives us the image, like it or not (and it seems to be like ecclesiastial Bovril!) , that is the Church’s international symbol for the Year.
But the key point is not the image or logo, but the reality of mercy. It is God’s gift to us, and the mission of the Church and every Christian is to seek to live by God’s mercy, and to share the good news of God’s mercy with the whole world.
Pope Francis writes:
As we can see in Sacred Scripture, mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible. Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviours that are shown in daily living. The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is, he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.
Points to bring to your prayer:
- Why might God wish to be merciful?
- Why does God need to be merciful to you?
- How can you bring something of God’s mercy to others.
A whole Year to explore the mercy of God
Each month during the Year of Mercy there will be an opportunity to explore a different dimension of the parable of the Finding of the Lost Sheep’:
Here is the parable:
Jesus said: Who among you, if they had a hundred sheep, but then lost one, would not leave the ninety nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it. And when he found it would he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders, and then call together his friends and neighbours? ‘Rejoice with me,’ he would say. ‘I have found my sheep that was lost. In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who says sorry and wants to do better than over ninety-nine good people who have no need to say sorry.