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A Year of Mercy

by Sr. Katie Mitchell, FSPA | July 17, 2015

Some have called Pope Francis the “Pope of Mercy,” and, indeed, mercy seems to be a constant theme for him.  Pope Francis again demonstrated his focus on mercy with the unexpected announcement that the Church will celebrate an extraordinary jubilee Holy Year of Mercy.  The Year of Mercy begins this December 8, the day on which Catholics celebrate the Immaculate Conception, and it closes November 20, 2016, the feast of Christ the King.  In response to this Year of Mercy, the Church is planning many events all over the world that will hopefully helping us discover over and over God’s mercy in our lives. 

Why is Pope Francis calling for a Year of Mercy in the Church? I believe it is so we can deepen our confidence in God’s love for us! I also think he wants this love to overflow into our relationships with others.  Pope Francis has also expressed his desire that all find mercy in the Church and that the Church “make more evident its mission of being a witness of mercy.” 

In announcing the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis expressed his deep desire that we have the joy of rediscovering God’s loving mercy for us and that we offer this same mercy to our brothers and sisters in concrete acts of love.  What if we were imitators of God’s mercy as persons and as Church?  Pope Francis tells us “How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God.  May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.” 

I think that if we want to love other people, we first need to know God’s unconditional love for us.  When we are convinced of God’s love and mercy for us, we become much more loving, patient, forgiving and merciful with others.  Sometimes, though, we have wounds in our hearts and we don’t feel loved or worthy of God’s love.  Maybe we feel hurt by others, or we have been abused, rejected, abandoned or betrayed.  How many of us suffer pain, division, or loss in our families! 

  • What if we presented these wounds to the Lord who can understand our pain because he also suffered rejection, hurt, abandonment and betrayal?
  • What if our hearts were healed because we felt so loved by our merciful God?
  • What if we found God’s love and mercy coming to us through the people in our lives?
  • What if we felt so loved by God that God’s love flowed through us and we were able to show this love to others? 

Just as when Jesus walked this earth and could see people’s hearts, so, too, today he can see clearly into the very depths of our hearts and make us feel confident that we are seen, known and loved by our merciful God.

Author information Sr. Katie Mitchell, FSPA

Katie Mitchell, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, is a pastoral associate at Saint Mary Parish in Evanston, Il. She has ministered in teaching, faith formation, young adult ministry, vocation ministry and ministry with media. Katie has a B.A. in History and Communications, a M.A. in Education, and a M.A. in Theology. She also earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Catholic Theological Union at Chicago.

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