As 2016 begins, I have been thinking a lot about solidarity. It’s such a vital part of our Catholic identity. Jesus taught us by word and action what it means to stand with our brothers and sisters—especially those in need—who are not part of our inner circle. And our own U.S. Catholic Bishops call solidarity one of the seven basic foundations of Catholic social teaching. Yet there is so much division in our world and in our country—between countries and continents, between people of different races or religious beliefs, between political parties, between conservatives and liberals, even between neighbors and neighborhoods. It makes me wonder how often we as Church and as individuals practice solidarity. How are we teaching and modeling this virtue in our ministry?
Photo by Leticia Bertin on Flickr
If ever there was an opportunity for us to celebrate and be grateful for God’s mercy and compassion and forgiveness, it’s now. Carpe diem! Seize the day! Since Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning December 8th on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and ending on November 20th of 2016, we’ve probably all been thinking about how we can weave the theme of mercy into our evangelization and catechesis. But before we get there, maybe there’s a preliminary step!
I think the first thing I need to keep in mind is to not create ways I can use the Jubilee Year of Mercy in my ministry. (That will come later.) I believe Pope Francis is calling me to show mercy myself. I have the audacity to pray the Lord’s Prayer every day. Sometimes I don’t pay attention to the fact that I am asking God to forgive me only to the degree I forgive others. No more, no less. It’s a scary thought. I am certain I’d rather be judged by God than by me. So perhaps the best way I can enter into the Year of Mercy is to become a person of mercy, to forgive, to offer mercy when I really want justice, and to have a more compassionate heart. What do you think?
Yes, it is noisy. Yes, it is chaotic. And yes, it is a lot of hard work for parish leaders. But there is something almost magical about generations learning faith together. I’ve seen a father with his arm around his 12-year-old daughter exploring a Scripture passage. That gives me hope.