Someone had the gall to ask a priest if we really need a Year of Mercy. Well, it’s actually a pretty good question. Fr. Earl Fernandes, Dean and Associate Professor of Moral Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, responds in this his December column for The Catholic Telegraph.
Dear Father, I hate to sound cynical and tired, but do we really need a Year of Mercy after all the specially designated Years (Jubilee Year, Rosary, Eucharist, St. Paul, Faith, Consecrated Life, etc.) we have had?
Dear Reader, Yes. We need such a year. Recently I attended a talk on Luke’s Gospel by Father Frank Giuffre, Scripture Professor at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. He triggered my thoughts about the Year of Mercy, helping me to understand its importance and its timeliness.
The Year of Mercy has significant contributions to make to our faith life and to modern life in general. Throughout the year, on Sundays, we will hear Luke’s Gospel, which wants to show us the tenderness of God. There we find a very dramatic personal witness to the power of forgiveness and compassion, especially in the example of the Good Samaritan and the forgiving and loving father in the portrayal of Prodigal Son. In each case, a life is turned around, given respect, and hope by the action of someone who understood the meaning of true mercy. These were not necessary gifts by any social standards; rather, they were portrayals of the Father’s love for all His people in a free and gratuitous way. These scriptural passages are given to us so we may see the beauty of doing likewise. The Year of Mercy is an invitation to reflect upon the Mercy of God.
In reflecting on the scriptures and the merciful Father, we hear the words: Go and do likewise. The Year of Mercy is not so much about attending programs but about imaging the compassion of God in the world. The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are very important ways for us to imitate the Lord, learn from the Spirit and worship the Father. By visiting the sick, counseling the doubtful, praying for the living and the dead we open up to others the Father’s compassion and mercy for them in their deep personal needs. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the material needs of those who suffer from want and lack in their lives assures those living in poverty and material deprivation that the true God sees them, hears their cries and responds to them in times of want and crisis.
Continue Reading Do We Really Need a Year of Mercy?
Feature photo of “No Mercy” courtesy of Creative Commons/Wikipedia.