From the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8 2015, until the Feast of Christ the King, November 20 2016, our Holy Father Pope Francis has declared an Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.
In so many ways, and running through all that he says, Pope Francis has been teaching us that Mercy is the ultimate word of the Father expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is central to all revelation and the key to understanding God’s unimaginable message to humankind.
“Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” (Letter proclaiming the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, #2)
However, God’s mercy shown to, offered to, and received by each of us is a dynamic process. Like all love, it will change us, challenge us, and convert us. Experiencing mercy urges us on to be agents of mercy ourselves. Holding on to God’s mercy and not passing it on will destroy it and turn it into self-indulgence.
The Evangelist reminds us of the teaching of Jesus who says, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). It is a programme of life as demanding as it is rich with joy and peace. In order to be capable of mercy, therefore, we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God.
This means rediscovering the value of silence in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us. In this way, it will be possible to contemplate God’s mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle. (Misericordiae Vultus, #13)
The motto for this Holy Year is “Merciful like the Father”. No doubt there will be many events and celebrations at the parish, diocesan, national and international level, but if this motto is not engraved on our hearts and lived out in our lives, they will be of no use whatsoever! Rather, may it be truly a year of mercy for each of us and may we learn through mercy to become agents of God’s mercy to all our brothers and sisters.
• There will be Mass at the Cathedral on Tuesday December 8 at 7pm to begin the Holy Year of Mercy and then the Holy Door at our Cathedral will be blessed and opened at the 5pm. Mass on Sunday December 13. It is hoped that by scheduling the Mass at this time many people, lay-faithful and clergy will be able to attend.