Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Year of Mercy

Friends of Faith:
Pope Francis has declared the year of 2016 to be a “Year of Mercy” for a very good reason – EVERYONE needs it, “for we have sinned.”

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.”A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Ps 51: 3-17

But mercy is much more than just forgiveness for our sins, mercy is a time to forgive others; to grow in our faith; to rejoice and be glad that God has given us a Savior to wash away our guilt; and to commit to showing mercy to ALL of God’s people.
It is a time of refreshing ourselves with renewed courage and strength so that when we are called we can follow the Spirit who asks us to be “Christ like.” The Year of Mercy is a time to extend the mercy of Christ to others.  

Yet, too many times I find myself looking at the world, a single person or a group of people, and saying, “if only they would do this or that the world would be a better place.” I find myself blaming or pointing a finger at others instead of looking at my own failings and faults.
So mercy presents for me an opportunity to search my own heart for what it is I could be doing to make this world, and this time, better. What changes can I make in myself so that others will see Christ through me and in their own lives? How am I failing in my personal choices to say “yes” to God? Who am I ignoring that needs to see Christ in me? What “strange god” is overshadowing my life, my decisions, or my time?

Culturally our gods have become sports, possessions, sex and fulfilling our own desires. Many of us fail in the most basic choices of putting God first even on Sunday or to serve our spouses to whom we have taken a vow and covenant to love. And what is my response when I am asked to give my time or possessions to a stranger who is in need? Is God being given my “leftovers” fruits instead of my first time or talent?
Heavenly Father, help me to be able to honestly say that I put you FIRST; that I am a follower of Christ, a Christian. Grant me mercy for not showing others that you are what I value most in life. “Cast me not out from your presence.” And give me the grace to see the Holy Spirit who is always present and waiting to lead me. Renew in me a clean heart and cleanse me from my sin. Amen.

The Year of Mercy isn’t just about our own forgiveness. Rather the Year of Mercy should also be about our own renewal to be merciful to each other by putting God first, by serving others needs and by showing to others how Christ’s mercy and love gives us peace and joy.
“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
Blessings as you seek and spread God’s mercy to others,

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