Last Tuesday, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis officially marked the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and every diocesan bishop joined in the action by opening the Holy Doors of their cathedral churches and celebrated the Eucharist. In our own Diocese we have a set of Holy Doors at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and at Our Lady of Peace Church. Entering through those doors, celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharist leads one to receive a special blessing or indulgence, opening our hearts to God’s healing mercies.
We are too aware that we live in a world where people are impatient, living life in a frenzied way. I am continually amazed at how fast some individuals drive on the freeway, no less our own local streets, as if getting to their destination was a speed contest; they are in some kind of race. In our fast paced world getting there is part of the journey, enjoying the scenery, now that the Christmas lights on homes and businesses are illuminated. Taking in the sights, slowing down can bring a sense of calm to our hearts rather than this senseless hurry which can be unsafe for pedestrians or other motorists alike also trying to arrive at their destinations safely.
Those who have elected to add a “moving message” to their car windows reflect, ‘now that I have these words on my car windows, I better slow down and drive more safely.’ Slowing down, giving way to other drivers in a mad rush is a form of mercy. As the Pope writes “mercy is the very foundation of the church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world should be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows mercy and compassionate love.”
When we are a witness to mercy, there is a palpable difference in how we feel, how we respond to other people in our daily interactions. Often I find that simply smiling at another person in a store, a person waiting in line, at least acknowledges the other person, giving a small measure of respect and consideration. When there is respect, other people may experience that they matter, all people matter. When we discount any person, treat them as an object, everyone is a loser.Over and over again, Jesus was merciful as the “Father is merciful.” In this Advent season may we express God’s mercy to all those we meet to the best of our ability, and that action and attitude may bring peace to our minds and hearts. Let us be mindful of our call to mercy in this coming year.