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jubileemercylogoPope Francis has become a model, not only to Roman Catholics or Christians, but for people the world over who respond to his message of humility and love for all people as well as for the world in which we live. To point up the necessity for us to consider how we are responding to this essential message, Francis has called for a Holy Year of Mercy which begins today. Here are some excerpts from his homily for the occasion on which he announced this special year.

…Our prayer is all the more intense and becomes a cry for help to the Father, who is rich in mercy, that He may sustain the faith of our many brothers and sisters who are in pain. At the same time, we ask for the grace of conversion of our own hearts so as to move from indifference to compassion…Many question in their hearts: Why a Jubilee of Mercy today? Simply because the church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness. This is not the time to be distracted; on the contrary, we need to be vigilant and to reawaken in ourselves the capacity to see what is essential…to be a sign and instrument of the Father’s mercy. For this reason, the Holy Year must keep alive the desire to know how to welcome the numerous signs of the tenderness which God offers the whole world and, above all, to those who suffer…

Juxtaposed with all the violence and discrimination in our country and throughout the world, it is easy to agree that the message of Pope Francis is not only timely but crucial if we are to ever heal the wounds of the world. There will be much more to say in reflection on the concept and practice of mercy as the year unfolds, but for today, in this season of waiting for a new birth grounded in love, it is enough to believe that we are able – each of us and all of us – to do our part to realize the goal set forth today, to be the mercy of God in our time.