OPENING OUR HEARTS IN THIS YEAR OF MERCY
We are now well and truly into the Year of Mercy, which commenced with splendid ‘Opening of the Door’ ceremonies around the country in December 2015.
The symbolism of this ritual not only sought to focus our attention on Pope Francis’ Declaration of the Year of Mercy, it was a time when we could translate the opening of the door into our hope that all of our hearts will be open in a special way during this year. For almost all of us, in every moment of every day, we need to remind ourselves that at its essence our purpose for our existence is to be and spread Mercy – to be and spread love.
The spreading of Mercy can be easier with those with whom we have a positive connection such as our friends, colleagues, partner or family. With others, perhaps those who are different to us, annoy us or whom we believe will do us harm, the challenge is much greater and the need to bring Mercy to those situations is much stronger. Our challenge is to see in everyone, both the friend and the so called ‘foe’, the same merciful love of God that is within us. It is to follow the words of Paul in his letter to the Romans – “Love your neighbour as yourself” (13:9).
In expressing this merciful love, we should also seek to embody Paul’s words when he says that we should not judge others (14:10). An easy way to embrace Paul’s message is to apply our own filter. Perhaps take a deep breath before we say something about someone else or enter into one of ‘those conversations’. Maybe think about what newspapers we read or what television we watch. So much about what consumes our minds and conversation, whether intentionally or not, is just that -‘judging others’. In many ways by judging others, we are judging ourselves. We are saying that we are more worthy than someone else so we can judge them, without really knowing what light may be truly shining within their hearts and what clouds may have formed around their inner light as a result of their experiences.
In 2016, whether through the Mercy International Reflection Process, which is drawing together all of the members of Mercy Congregations and Institutes worldwide in a reflection on what opening our collective hearts to Mercy means in answering the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth, or through our own individual actions, thoughts, language and practices, my hope is that this time will be one of inspiration and grace, one which gives us greater insight into how we can play our part in the expression of God’s Mercy through our individual lives and in our collective ministries.
Sr Berneice Loch rsm – Institute Leader
Messages to: Institute Leader