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OXYGEN Volume 09This morning Psalm 103 reminds me once again that Pope Francis has called this year “A Year of Mercy.” Perhaps by coincidence – but maybe not – I found the Pope’s New Year’s message last evening and was struck by a section entitled, “From Indifference to Mercy: the Conversion of Hearts.” Here’s a bit of what he said.

Mercy is the heart of God. It must also be the heart of the members of the one great family of his children: a heart which beats all the more strongly wherever human dignity – as a reflection of the face of God and his creatures – is in play. Jesus tells us that love for others – foreigners, the sick, prisoners, the homeless, even our enemies – is the yardstick by which God will judge our actions. Our eternal destiny depends on this.

We know too much of our world to be indifferent to those in need. When we pray, “Lord, have mercy,” we ought to hear ourselves asking and perhaps hear as well God saying back, “You too, you have mercy!” We can hardly avoid that call because we can no longer separate ourselves since the faces of those in need of our mercy rise up to meet us at every turn. As the psalmist might say today, we swim in mercy as in an endless sea (vs. 10), so great is God’s care for us. How can we fail to act in like manner?