The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
On April 11, 2015, Pope Francis (remember him?) declared a “Jubilee Year Dedicated to the Virtue of Mercy” symbolically beginning with the opening of the “Holy Door” at St. Peter Basilica in Rome on December 8, 2015 (Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception).
St. Monica (through the coordination of the Respect Life Committee) has planned a number of initiatives and activities to commemorate The Jubilee Year here in our parish. In addition, the US Conference of Bishops have prepared their own web page about the year, in addition to a number of fine events planned through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Ok, but how can we – as individuals – celebrate this “Year of Mercy?”
The catholic blog site, Aleteia, listed “56 Ways to Be Merciful During the Jubilee Year of Mercy.” As I scrolled through them, I found myself saying, “Ok, that one’s good. I can do that other one. There’s one I’m already doing …. Uh oh, wait a minute. THAT one’s gonna be really hard!” They suggest randomly selecting one each week and putting it into practice. (They gave some extras so we could mix them up!). I also see these as a great “teaching moment” instrument for parents to concretely teach “mercy” to their children. Some young people will naturally complain. I also think that some will embrace the challenge especially when they hear that their parents are struggling with this as well. Here are the first 25:
1) Resist sarcasm; it is the antithesis of mercy: “Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth; keep watch, O Lord, at the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3).
2) Pare down possessions: share your things with the needy.
3) Call someone who you know is lonely, even if you understand why they’re lonely. Do this especially if you do.
4) Write a letter of forgiveness to someone. If you cannot send it, sprinkle it with holy water, ask Christ Jesus to have mercy on you both and then burn or bury it.
5) Learn to say this prayer: “Dear Lord, bless [annoying person’s name] and have mercy on me!”
6) Plan a mini pilgrimage to a local shrine; make an effort along the way to live the corporal work of mercy of “welcoming the stranger” as Christ.
7) Do something kind and helpful for someone who you don’t get along with, or who has wronged you.
8) Be mindful of your behavior online. Is that post designed to improve your image … and leave others feeling bad? Are you hammering people in order to serve your anger and humiliate others?
9) Have masses said for the living: friends and family members, even strangers you read/hear about, who are having a hard time.
10) Be generous enough to allow someone to help you; people need to feel needed.
11) If you didn’t mean to be a pain in the neck to someone, admit that you were and ask the person to forgive you.
12) Take a tip from Cardinal Timothy Dolan and carry around $5 Starbucks and McDonald’s gift cards for the homeless.
13) Take time in prayer to contemplate the good qualities of someone who is difficult for you. Do the same for each member of your family.
14) Send a card, flowers, gift or note to someone on the six-month anniversary of his or her loved one’s death. By then most people have stopped recognizing their grief.
15) Offer to babysit for a busy mom to go out and have a couple of hours to herself.
16) Make a meal (or buy a gift certificate) for a mom who’s just given birth or adopted a child, or for someone who’s just gone through a loss.
17) Hold. Your. Tongue.
18) Offer to run an errand (groceries, dry cleaning pick up, dog-walking) for a busy parent or homebound person.
19) If you can’t sit down beside a homeless person to talk for a while today, at least send a donation to a ministry that does do this (such as Christ in the City).
20) If you’re sharing a treat, take the smaller portion.
21) Memorize the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy and show your children what they mean.
22) Instead of losing patience with someone online (or in person), try to hear their fear. Ask God for what Solomon asked for: “an understanding heart.”
23) Offer to drive an elderly person to Mass.
24) Recall a time you were not given a benefit of a doubt, and extend one to someone else.
25) Put down the phone and really listen to someone else, with eye contact.