May 4, 2016
While we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, let us not forget that we also continue to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In fact, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Paschal Mystery, is the definitive act of God’s mercy given to each of us and to all of us.
The question for us then is simply this: How do we respond to God’s mercy? Do we accept it with great humility knowing that we do not deserve it? Do we respond with sincere gratitude knowing that we could never have saved ourselves from the power and ravages of our sins?
Do we ignore God’s gift of mercy by speaking, thinking and acting as if Good Friday and Easter Sunday never happened? In a word, have we and do we allow God Himself and His merciful grace into our daily lives so that we can be and will be reformed into a better image and icon of Him?
These questions, which each of us should ask ourselves often, are not meant to make us feel bad or insult our efforts to be good people. They are meant to be those regular “checks” on our behavior to help us do what is truly good and virtuous and help us avoid the many temptations to sin and sin itself.
One of the very best guides for us, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, is the Church’s description of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The reason the works of mercy are so effective is that we can do all of them or some of them depending on our abilities. However, all of us can do them, depending on our talents and means and in performing them we serve Jesus out of love for Him and for our neighbor, whom He loves.
To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to visit the imprisoned, to visit the sick and to bury the dead (cf. Mt. 25: 31-46), are real and tangible actions we can perform. However, it is not just a matter of doing something nice; it is a matter of doing something for another and not expecting anything in return, even a “thank you.” We are merciful to others because we know it is the good and right thing to be and to do because we love God unconditionally.
To instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish a sinner, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offenses willingly, to comfort the sorrowful and to pray for the living and the dead, are just as real and tangible acts of mercy as the corporal works of mercy. These works of mercy are also done without expecting anything in return and are done for another because they are good.
The theme for the Jubilee is “Merciful like the Father.” Let us realize that the Lord is truly merciful to us. Should we not do our best to imitate Him in being merciful to others?