Mercy has long been one of the most difficult concepts to explain for two reasons. First, since it is a short, simple word whose meaning seems obvious, many assume that we all understand its definition. Second, because it is a word used very differently in our current society.So when our Holy Father called for a Year of Mercy, we must pause to consider what this means.
“Merciful like the Father” draws us to chapter 6 of Luke, where Jesus is teaching the people. It starts with Jesus debating with the Pharisees, then teaching the multitudes through the Beatitudes. The theme of the Year of Grace comes at the end of the teaching of Jesus about loving our enemies, right before the teaching on not judging others.
That placement is important to the meaning of this theme. We could picture the Father’s mercy connected to the story of the prodigal son, receiving the wayward son upon his return. Mercy is put into a different light, however, when we are challenged to not only love our enemies, but to not judge them or anyone else. Through these passages we are called to see ourselves as sinners in need of mercy, thus accepting the fact that others also sin and are in need of forgiveness and mercy.
During this Year of Mercy, we focus on the Father’s mercy in our lives as well as how we can be conduits of justice and mercy in our daily lives. There are many books, articles, and video teachings that can help us along the way and our diocesan offices are committed to providing you with whatever you need to make the Year of Mercy a fruitful one for you and for your parish. This page holds just some of the resources we offer; look to our Grapevine Newsletter for more, currently available on the diocesan website.
May this year be one of love, mercy and justice for us all. - Rose Hernandez