Category Archives: Year of Mercy

Year of Mercy: Mercy and Love

The Great Convergence Is when mercy and love flow together to become ‘merciful love.’  This is the combination described as ‘hesed’ in the Old Testament and ‘agapé’ in the New Testament.  We describe it as faithful love, steadfast love, never-ending … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy and Hope

Mercy and hope unite to create the realization that God sees us differently than others see us–sees us differently than we may even see ourselves.  God sees us as beloved children. Henri Nouwen made this one of his major emphases, … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy and Faith

Having used Pope Francis’ writing ‘The Face of Mercy’ (and related resources) to stimulate my meditations for much of this year, I want to conclude this Year of Mercy with some posts that are rooted in my own thoughts.  If … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: The Eternal Trajectory

The showing of mercy on earth becomes an eternal trajectory in Matthew 21: 31-45, the final parable we will explore. In the story, sheep show mercy, goats do not.  And the two are separated according to mercy given or withheld. … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Reciprocal Mercy

We like to think that we learn to give mercy to others in keeping with the ways we have received it ourselves.  But unfortunately, the parable in Matthew 18: 21-35 teaches us that this not always the case. The servant owed … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy Given

Today we look at one of the great parables of contrast: Luke 18:1-8.  Simply put, Jesus is saying that if we can persist and eventually prevail over another’s reluctance to help us, how much more will we receive help from … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy Eventually

Luke 16:19-31 is not an easy parable to interpret.  But one thing is clear: mercy will be given to all who failed to receive it–even if it only happens in heaven. The rich man never gave Lazarus a crumb.  Dogs … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy Demonstrated

No parable is better known than the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and it is a parable about mercy (v. 37).  The one-word for mercy in this parable is ‘neighborliness.’ Jesus cuts through theological jargon and religious complexity … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Extravagant Love

In addition to the two parables that Pope Francis cites in his writing, a supplemental resource entitled ‘Parables of Mercy’ (published by Our Sunday Visitor) explores five more.  Today, we look at Luke 7:36-50, the story Jesus told to explain … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy It Forward

The second parable that Pope Francis references is Matthew 18:21-35, a story Jesus used to answer Peter’s question, “How many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” The parable has some enigmatic nuances, but the … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy and Grace

The third parable (Luke 15:11-32) is usually called the parable of the prodigal son, but like the previous  two parables, it is a story about God: “a man had two sons.”  How God related to each one is the point … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy and Value

The second parable of mercy is Luke 15:8-10, the searching woman.  Interpretations abound, but the one I want to focus on is that whereas the sheep wandered away, the coins were lost through no fault of their own. Who knows … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Parables of Mercy

In addition to the psalms, Pope Francis also references three parables in 15:1-32 and one in Matthew 18:22-35.  A supplementary resource (see below) expands a look at these parables of mercy by adding five more for study.  In the coming … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Remember Mercy

Pope Francis ends his document with Psalm 25:6.  It may seem a strange way to bring his writing to a close, given all he said about mercy and its being integral to God’s nature.  Why ask God to remember something … Continue reading

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Year Of Mercy: Mercy and Justice

Mercy without justice is cheap grace.  But justice without mercy is condemnation.  For there to be Gospel, mercy and justice must come together.  For Pope Francis, that union is described in Psalm 51: 11-16. Redemption must occur, otherwise we remain … Continue reading

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Year Of Mercy: A Request Fulfilled

Pope Francis’ reference to Psalm 70:1 is in relation to God’s willingness to help us even before we ask for help.  In other words, mercy is God’s predisposition.  Our requests for help are never interruptions. Mercy is not something God … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Streams of Mercy

Perhaps the writer of the hymn ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’ had Psalm 136 in mind, for one phrase in the hymn says, “streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise.” Never-ending mercy could easily be … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Recipients of Mercy

Pope Francis’ next reference to the psalms is a combination of 146:7-9 and 147:3-6.  These two passages answer the question, “To whom is mercy shown?” A look at the Bible as-a-whole clearly reveals that the ultimate answer to the question … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: God’s Comprehensive Mercy

Pope Francis’ first reference to the psalter is 103:3-4. Clearly, he understands that God’s mercy is comprehensive, extending into forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and honoring.  The psalmist proclaims a 360° involvement of God in our lives. Life is completely different when … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Psalms of Mercy

In her excellent book, ‘Finding Your Voice in the Psalms,’ Elizabeth Canham uses selected psalms to give voice to our life’s concerns.  Pope Francis did similarly in his writing, ‘The Face of Mercy.’  He cited key psalms to make various … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Transition

With the completion of our look at Pope Francis’ document ‘The Face of Mercy,’ it is time to take a breath and reflect on the journey through The Year of Mercy thus far. I hope you have read the Pope’s … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Surprise!

(25)The Pope draws his writing to a close with a call for us to open ourselves to the God who surprises us.  The God who never tires of showering us with mercy, has ways and means for doing this that … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mother of Mercy

(24) Pope Francis heads toward the end of his writing as is often the style for Roman Christians–by including Mary in the document as not only an example of mercy in her own right, but also as one who prays … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: A Multi-Religious Reality

(23) Pope Francis makes it clear that his emphasis on mercy is not restricted to Roman Christianity, or to Christianity itself.  Mercy is at the heart of Judaism and Islam and (in his words) “other noble religious traditions.” It is … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Set Free!

(22) As soon as we hear the word ‘indulgence,’ our minds hark back to their abuse in the Roman Church in and around the time of the Protestant Reformation.  So, to read Pope Francis’ declaration that the Year of Mercy … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: More Than Respect

(21)  The mercy/justice combination is so important that Pope Francis devotes another segment to it.  This time he notes that one problem with the lead-with-justice approach is that the most justice can exact from us is respect. And when justice … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Mercy and Justice

(20) Pope Francis rightly notes the connection between mercy and justice.  It takes both to order life as we know it.  But the ordering of the two is crucial. If we lead with justice, we run the risk of never … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Flee Corruption

(19) With courageous specificity, Pope Francis calls on those who knowingly practice corruption to change their ways and be transformed by the grace of God into those who knowingly show mercy.  Included in his call are those in criminal organizations … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Missionaries of Mercy

(18)  Pope Francis has commissioned missionaries of mercy–clergy who are going into the world to be living signs of God’s mercy.  The radical nature of his commission is that he has given these priests and bishops authority to pardon sins … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Good Confessors

(17) Had we begun the reading of Pope Francis’ document when he officially began The Year of Jubilee, we would have found this segment to be more timelyfor Lent.  But reading it now makes it no less important, given his … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: The Jesus Way

(16) The impetus for Pope Francis’ declaration of this year as a Year of Mercy comes from Jesus himself, when he inaugurated his ministry saying that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, anointing him to “proclaim the year … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Wealth Blocks Mercy

(15) Pope Francis echoes Jesus’ concern that riches can make it difficult to enter the Kingdom of Heaven–difficult to practice the Kingdom virtue of mercy.  This is consistent with the Pope’s concern about the danger of riches with respect to … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Walking Into Mercy

(14) Life is a pilgrimage, says Pope Francis.  Being merciful as God is merciful is a spiritual pilgrimage, marked by the movement spelled out by Jesus in Luke 6:37-38: non-judgment, no condemnation, and forgiveness. The first step in becoming merciful … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Gospel Attentiveness

(13) If we are to be merciful as God is merciful, we must pay attention to the Father, as Jesus himself did (John 5:19).  In the Christian tradition, we practice Gospel attentiveness through reading and reflecting on Scripture. In its … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: God’s Heartbeat

(12) This section of Pope Francis is so rich and compact, my first inclination was simply to post it verbatim.  I hope you will not fail to read it, even as you read my reflection below… Calling mercy “the heartbeat … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Amnesia

(11)  Henri Nouwen once remarked that the great danger in the spiritual life is amnesia–forgetting the very things God would have us remember.  Pope Francis would surely agree, as in this section of his writing, he cites similar words from … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: The Foundation

(10) The life and ministry of the Church stands on the foundation of mercy.  The witness of the Church rises and falls in relation to the presence or absence of mercy.  Pope Francis believes the Church has forgotten this and … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Storied Into Love

(9) Jesus understood the transformative power of stories.  Parables were his primary means of speaking the revelation of God to us.  Among his best-known stories are two parables of mercy: e.g. Luke 15:1-32 and Matthew 18:21-35. These parables of mercy … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Pure Love

(8) When we experience mercy it is always the mercy of love because God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).  Jesus came to reveal love and to invite us to accept the fact that we are God’s beloved daughters and … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Source of Salvation

(7) Mercy is the source of our salvation.  God does not save us out of a sense of obligation, but rather out of intense desire. Mercy is the sign that God is madly in love with us, never gives up … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Powerful Mercy

(6) Pope Francis connects God’s mercy and God’s omnipotence.  Drawing on the thoughts of St. Thomas Aquinas, he writes that God’s most powerful action is the expression of mercy. This is clearly so when we remember that mercy is our … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Living By Faith

(5) Before Pope Francis opened the Vatican Door announcing the commencement of the Year of Mercy, he looked to the end of the Jubilee year next November, declaring his belief that God would be faithful and pour out mercy on … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Fortress Abolished

(4) Pope Francis declares mercy to be the means for the Church to break out of a fortress mentality.  Mercy makes the Church “a”living sign of the Father’s love in the world.” I cannot think of anything more needed in … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: All Doors Open

(3) God moves us to pay concentrated and prolonged attention to particular things.  We cannot take in all the wonders of God at once.  The Spirit has moved in the heart of Pope Francis to call us to spend this … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: Depth

(2) Pope Francis gets straight to the point in explaining why he declared the “Year of Mercy”–it is what God most longs to give, and what we most long to receive. God’s desire to have mercy is our salvation.  This … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: The Face of Mercy

(1) Jesus puts a face on God–the face of mercy: ‘hesed’ in the Old Testament, ‘agapé’ in the New Testament. We need incarnation for revelation to become more than inspiration.  As the writer of Hebrews put it, God provided the … Continue reading

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Year of Mercy: 2016 Blog Theme

Pope Francis’ designation of December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016 as a Jubilee Year is his way of turning up the volume on his papacy, so that we will better hear and respond to his message and ministry.  His … Continue reading

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