Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ah Mercy, Mercy Me

A little credit to Marvin Gaye in my title today, even as I speak about Pope Francis and the 2016 Jubilee of Mercy. This declared year of mercy actually commenced last December and will continue through until November 2016. Roman Catholic parishes are encouraged to literally and figuratively demonstrate mercy during these twelve months, acknowledging that our world often seems cruel and merciless. Francis began the year on December 8th by designating a door of mercy at the Vatican. There are a number of resources for congregations to use in considering various aspects of mercy in daily life.

Here is a description of the year:

Pope Francis has called on Catholics around the world to use the ongoing Jubilee year of mercy to “open wide” the doors of their hearts to forgive others and to work against social exclusion, even of those that may have caused them bother or upset. In his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square Wednesday, the pontiff said that walking through any of the holy doors open in dioceses around the world for the Jubilee year should be a sign of “true conversion of our heart.” “When we go through that door, it is good to remember that we must also open wide the doors of our heart,” said Francis, suggesting people can even stand before the holy door and ask: “Lord, help me to open the doors of my heart!” “The holy year won’t be very effective if the doors of our heart do not let Christ enter, who pushes us to go towards others, to bring him and his love,” said the pope.

I like the concept and it would be worthwhile for Protestants to pick up on the theme as well. In his book Speaking Christian the late Marcus Borg offers that while we often think of mercy as clemency in situations where there s a power differential, it has more to do with compassion, "to feel with" another. He suggests that when we consider the beatitude "blessed are the merciful" we might substitute "blessed are the compassionate."

What is your reaction to the Jubilee or Year of Mercy? Does it help to focus on the theme? What about the tangible element of a mercy door?

1 comment:

Frank said...

Might be an opportunity as well to re-examine possibilities from "Charter for Compassion" ( This arose as a result of Karen Armstrong's 2008 TED talk.