As we begin the new liturgical year with Advent we have also just finished up the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I know one of my friends mentioned to me that someone told him they were glad it was coming to an end, now we can get back to normal. Now I’m not sure how much they were joking or not, but it reinforced something Fr. Schaab had shown me in the magazine “Priestly People” by the Servants of the Paraclete stressing how as we end this Year of Mercy we hopefully will “commit ourselves to continuing MERCY in every aspect of our lives.”
I have to admit, when we started the year I didn’t know how much of a difference it would make, maybe just pointing out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy a bit more, being a little more aware of the word when it comes up, but it really ended up more than that. I recognized how mercy exists in so many of the aspects of Jesus’s ministry, of our faith, of our theology. How obviously central it is to our salvation. And coming from this perspective how many Gospel passages took on deeper meaning.
The magazine had a few different ways in which we might consider to keep being merciful in our lives that we might not always consider as part of mercy. The following is just a summary of them: 1. Have mercy on ourselves, we can be overly critical and unforgiving of ourselves sometimes and this doesn’t just hurt us but also those around us. 2. Stop habits that annoy others, it may be big or small, but when we know what they are it is up to us to consider what it would take to change and if we are willing to. 3. Avoid saying “I told you so,” this shows if we are more interested in the truth or ourselves. 4. Offer help, we realize we have many opportunities if we choose to use them. 5. Don’t bring up old failings, Jesus didn’t do this to the apostles who abandoned him, nor does He do it with us, why should we do this to others? I noticed that all of these really have a similar aspect in that instead of dwelling on sins of ours or others from the past, they look towards how we may live more peacefully, helping one another and looking towards the future.
Actually I think I would add one more way to be merciful to this list, 6. Apologize for offenses as soon as you recognize them and have the opportunity, even if you didn’t intend any offense. This is something we have the power to do even if we are not morally required to. As we start Advent I think it might not be a bad idea to reflect on what the Year of Mercy meant to us and to see how we can continue to grow in our understanding and practice of mercy.