By Deb Griest
I know. I’m not Catholic, but I like Pope Francis. At this point in the world’s history, we need a religious leader who is humble and focused on living the Gospel. I don’t agree with every piece of his theology, but I can say that about almost every church leader I have met.
Today, the first day of Advent, is the first day of the liturgical church year. Pope Francis has proclaimed this the “Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.” In Biblical times, the year of jubilee was a holy year. One in which all debts were forgiven and people were encouraged to reconcile with one another. In his homily this morning, Pope Francis said that he hopes that this year will be, for all believers, “a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God.”
He has suggested that this experience will be enhanced when we extend mercy to others. Mercy is defined as an act of kindness, compassion or favor. More specifically, mercy is extended when the person to whom the kindness, compassion, or favor is given has in no way earned it, or in many cases, has done something that makes it unlikely. Much like grace, mercy is a blessing not deserved.
Most of the time the only way we have an authentic desire to offer mercy to others, is through God’s presence in our lives. Sure, we can serve at a soup kitchen or deliver meals to the homeless and feel good that we’re instruments of God’s mercy to others. However, it takes a lot more of God’s presence in our lives to forgive that family member who hurt us years ago, or to extend kindness to someone with whom we disagree on almost every issue. When we are instruments of God’s mercy working through us, we are changed as well.
Today we begin a year of jubilee and mercy. I’m choosing to celebrate it along with the millions of Catholic Christians who are committing themselves to work for God’s reconciliation in the world. Besides, God doesn’t care about denominations. He cares about faith in His Son, commitment to the Kingdom, and most of all, love.
Join me in praying that in 2016 the world will be transformed by the witness of Christians everywhere who are extending supernatural and divine mercy. I hope, that many times during this year, you have a “true moment of encounter with the mercy of God.”
If you would like to comment on this blog or offer one of your own, please contact Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org