But perhaps intentional attention to mercy is what we need right now in a world where mercy is in short supply. Shakespeare said that the quality of mercy is not strained, but he might want to hear what the Pope had to say on the subject:
Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)”
My very favorite prayer (at least this week) is the Great Thanksgiving, offered in Morning and Evening Prayer. It’s printed in the column on the left. For me, it sums up what it means to live a life of faith. In the midst of that prayer, we make this request: Give us such an awareness of your mercies that with truly thankful hearts, we may show forth your praise not only with our lips but with our lives.
This Monday morning, pray for awareness of God’s mercy. You might get out pen and paper and answer the following questions, as a spiritual exercise. What are synonyms for mercy? Kindness, grace, generosity, forgiveness, forbearance, pity, compassion, love? Cut someone slack? Give someone a break? Let it go? Then ask: When have I experienced a sense of mercy, from God or others? Give thanks for that. Then think about one way you can show mercy to someone else today. Admit that there are ways that our church, and each one of us in the church, withhold mercy. Ask for help to stop doing that.
For many reasons, I’m grateful for the ministry of this Pope. I’m particularly grateful that this morning, he’s calling me to a season in which I become more aware of God’s mercies. May that season never end.