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Monday, 14 November 2016 23:03

Mercy reawakens us to life and hope

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Sr Ruth Durick osu 150As we look back on this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we can be grateful for and proud of what has been achieved. Yet there is more to be done to help our nation fulfil its potential in the area of mercy, writes CRA President Sister Ruth Durick.

When Pope Francis declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy he reminded us that mercy dwells in the heart of everyone who looks sincerely into the eyes of their sisters and brothers on the path of life, a bridge connecting God with us and opening our hearts to hope. (MV#2) He called us to ‘proclaim the gospel in a new way’. (MV#4)

As we look back on this Jubilee Year of Mercy we can rightly be grateful for, and proud of, much that has been achieved. There are so many good people who take keenly to heart the message of the gospel of mercy; who reach out in mercy, compassion and justice to those on the margins; who take their place on the margins in order to be with their sisters and brothers in solidarity.

Jesus gives us many wonderful stories of mercy and compassion especially through his telling of parables. In the Good Samaritan we can see the possibilities of responding, or not, to the call of mercy. The ‘certain man’ who travelled from Jerusalem to Jericho could be anyone – you or me – it could have been someone seeking asylum. He travelled through dangerous territory and was set upon by brigands – pirates, robbers, people on the make. He was left for dead. Jesus gives us some wonderful examples of how we might respond to such a situation. Do we rely on the law, decide to keep our hands clean and leave it to others to resolve such issues? Do we decide there is nothing practical we can do even though we are on the spot and so go away and pray, or not, for this wounded person? Do we look sincerely into this person’s eyes, recognise him as one with us, that we are one in our humanity and that he is deserving of our compassion and mercy?

There is still more to be done to help our nation fulfil its potential in the area of mercy. Can we keep on urging our legislators and politicians to develop this heart of mercy? Can we urge them to open their hearts to those who are living in inhumane conditions of our government’s making, who were set upon in their own countries, who travelled difficult and dangerous journeys and, instead of being carried to the inn of healing, have been exiled out of sight to island detention? Can we urge them to ‘use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity’ (Saint John XXIII in MV#4)?

In the readings of our liturgy at this time we are presented with much colourful and apocalyptic language and stories about the end times. We are also presented with the reality that the Reign of God is here, it is in our midst. This is the Reign that Jesus spoke of when he went into the synagogue in Nazareth, opened the scroll and proclaimed from Isaiah:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor;
To proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight;
To set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”

Most importantly Jesus proclaimed that this text was ‘being fulfilled today as you listen’. Luke 4:18-21.

At the end of this Jubilee Year of Mercy let us be encouraged by the many ways in which the reign of God is here, alive, active in our world today. And let us be encouraged by the words of Pope Francis: “mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” (MV#10)

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