A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

In Need of Mercy

Posted on: April 13, 2015

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’”

~ Matthew 9:13*

Too often we hear and read about one religious or ethnic group retaliating against or exacting revenge on another through ethnic cleansing, war or persecution. Mercy seems to be in short supply these days.

When I read about the Church’s Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, this song popped into my head (probably because I grew up in the ’80s):

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel

Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night

Kyrie eleison, where I’m going will you follow?

Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

~ “Kyrie,” Mr. Mister

No matter who we are, we’re all in need of a little mercy.

On Saturday, Pope Francis presented the Bull of Indiction for this Holy Year, which will run from December 8, 2015, to November, 20, 2016. He writes that the Jubilee is “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy” that God “constantly extends to all of us.”

The Holy Father reminds us, “Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident.” The scriptures tell us of our need for God’s mercy and his grace in granting it:

  • Exodus 33:19: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”
  • Psalm 51:1: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
  • Proverbs 28:13: “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
  • Micah 7:18: “[God] does not retain his anger for ever because he delights in mercy.”

Pope Francis also reminds us that, “Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.” As Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:7:), “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Is that what people encounter within our parish church—and outside its walls? Do we recognize that we’re all sinners and undeserving of the mercy God grants us, whether we’re cradle Catholics or converts, long-time parishioners or newcomers or occasional visitors? Do we encourage our First Eucharist, Confirmation and RCIA candidates—and all other parishioners—to look forward to reconciliation, to see it as a chance to experience God’s mercy? Does our parish offer regular reconciliation times?

I pray that we would not wait for the start of this Jubilee but instead act now, seeking God’s mercy for ourselves and extending it to others, and remembering these words from 1 Peter 1:3-4:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you….

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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