As the year of consecrated life has come to an end, we are invited to enter into another year of grace with the opening of the extraordinary year of mercy. It is a journey that calls for a spiritual experience of receiving and extending mercy. Pope Francis calls us to live this year in the light of the Lord's words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36)
God’s love and goodness permeates the world. He gives us all things, natural and spiritual, temporal and eternal. It is not that we ought to receive all such things, but God out of pure goodness, gratuitously gives us all we need. We could have been led to eternal damnation, but His great mercy frees us from all evils, making us His own. Today, we are certain of the life that is eternal through Jesus His beloved Son. The Father’s love is made visible in the face of His beloved Son. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16)
Indeed, this holy year invites us to choose the path that Jesus lived. It requires a change of life by accepting Jesus into our lives. According to Saint Paul anyone who receives Jesus becomes a new creation. “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5: 17). In this new life, one is set to experience a changed state of life in which there is fullness. It is all about living in Christ Jesus and not merely knowing and loving him. In it there is newness, and that there springs new aspirations and desires, resulting in new delights and new joys. It calls for a life centred on Christ which leads to wholeness and perfect order.
Living a Christ centred life impels us to be merciful like Him. The entire life of Jesus was a manifestation of God’s loving mercy. The Gospels speak about his unconditional love and mercy. He was moved with compassion and went about doing good to all the people. Gospel of Mark tells us, “When he saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things” (Mk 6:34). Jesus had compassion whenever He encountered the suffering humanity. Therefore, He went about doing good, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, forgiving sins and freeing the oppressed.
This holy year invites us to be like the Father and to continue the mission of Jesus with greater zeal and commitment. It is an opportune time for us to show the visible face of Jesus to the humanity. Today, the world stands in need of liberation much more than the anything else. It is important that we become aware of the existing reality around and do all that we can within our power to mitigate pain and suffering. Whenever we reach out to alleviate the sufferings of others, especially those considered least in our society we become the channels of God’s mercy and our genuine actions become salvific. Gospel of Mathew stresses on the importance of reaching out to the least in the society. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mt. 25: 40)
May this holy year of mercy lead us to understand the great mercy which God has for us and may it urge us to become Christ like in all our endevours.
Sr. Philomena Mathew