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The Year of MERCY
...not just a year
Interestingly enough, MERCY is one of the basic virtues of “mankind”, mentioned in the majority of religions: Christian, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism. It is a broad term that refers to benevolence (well-meaning goodness, goodwill, and desire to do good), forgiveness and kindness in a variety of ethical, religious, social and legal contexts! Our Pope Francis has proclaimed a Special and Extraordinary Holy Year Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015 (Immaculate Conception of Mary), through November 21, 2016 (Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe).
I am certain that Pope Francis has chosen those celebrations honoring Mary and Jesus to encase this special focus on mercy, because both were merciful. Throughout their lives, they were our primary examples of mercy. Furthermore, the concept of a merciful God appears throughout the Old and New Testaments. St. Augustine referred to mercy as “ever ancient, ever new.” The works of Mercy (seven corporal and seven spiritual) are a major part of our Catholic tradition because mercy is a virtue to be lived.
Modeled by Jesus and Mary, mercy is action, example, and a conforming of our minds and hearts to God. It is to try every day to live in goodness, kindness, goodwill and forgiveness. Mercy breeds mercy. It is transformation from our small ego self to our “God self.” We are merciful because God is merciful. Simply put, mercy is the Golden Rule! Since God is mercy and love, we, his children, are mercy and love too. Deep down in our soul, we were made that way. Communion with and connection to God helps us to let this goodness emerge from our souls into action. We spread the light of God in this way.
To BE mercy, the behavior generally can’t just be compelled by the world, but rather through the heart. To quote Portia in The Merchant of Venice:
The quality of mercy is not strain’d
It droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Twice blessed! That says it all! May God shower the blessings of His mercy upon us, and may we shower our blessings upon others. Simple kind actions change the world, and in doing so, WE are changed! Twice blessed.
Article written by Dr. Ginney K. Duffey
Director of Evangelization and Planning