12May Be merciful like the Father

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Chris McDonnell   Wednesday May 13th 2015.

The image that heads this post has been designed for the Jubilee Year of Mercy by Fr Marko Rupnik, a Slovenian Jesuit.

Mercy is a two way process, something that is on occasion ours to give and something we might at times be fortunate enough to receive. The circumstances when mercy is exercised are many and varied. One common thread is the matter of waiving a right to action, renouncing what is ours to expect as an act of clemency to another.

How will the Church be a sign of mercy in the Jubilee year? It will not be enough to declare a Jubilee without our showing mercy in a real and recognisable manner, mercy offered to others, whatever their faith or nationality and mercy given to our own.

Our voices should be raised whenever mercy is pleaded for those who are persecuted, where evident injustice gives rise to unjust treatment or threat to life. Where those who are voiceless through circumstance, our voice might be the only one they have. On their behalf we must call for mercy. The success of our call may be limited as was the case with the plea for mercy over the recent Indonesian executions, but still we have the responsibility in conscience to make it.

For those whose marriages founder, we should be there, not to critically admonish, but to sustain through anguish. Given the culture of the West, it always surprises me that so many marriages survive the stress and strain of living. To lose the stability of a relationship, often entered into at an immature age, and later to find solace with another, is a painful experience. That loneliness is only enhanced when sacramental exclusion is subsequently imposed on individuals. The mercy of the shepherd is denied to the very sheep of the flock who are in need of mercy.

The recent Tablet article – Year of Mercy to make mission a priority- (May 9th 2015) mentions various Jubilee occasions to be held during the year. In June there will be a celebration for priests. Fine, a worthy celebration for the Church to recognise, but what of those many priests who in recent times have had to set aside their public ministry after the love for a woman led to marriage? It would be merciful to invite them to resume their priestly ministry within their Christian faith and for the good of the people.

The Jubilee for families, celebrated when the Synod gathers in October, is the centre point of the year. It will be shown fit for purpose if it shows mercy where pastoral mercy is required.

May we all be merciful as the Father of us all is merciful, let it begin with me.


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