The "official" Year of Mercy will soon come to an end. However, rather than seeing it as an end maybe we have the opportunity to see it as a refresher, a reminder and a signpost for a life of mercy.
Over the course of the year, Pope Francis has reminded us time and again of our call to be witnesses and apostles of mercy in the world. He has called us to seek out those who need mercy the most and to be mercy for them. He has called us to look deeply at how we live out our faith; as comfortable catholics observing from a safe distance? or as people enlivened by the Good News of Jesus Christ that seek to be the eyes, ears, hands and feet of mercy to others? He has called on us to use our talents, resources and belief to make a tangible, and merciful, differnce in our world; our common home. And he has called us to remember that it is God's Mercy that we bring, not our own.
If we are to take all this seriously then we need to be people engaged in a process of change that leads us into an ever deepening relationship with God, others, ourselves and all of creation. At first sight this call may seem too difficult for us however it is our call if we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
Each of us has the opportunity to respond to this call in our own way. We are not asked to be someone else but rather more fully ourselves. If we are married, we live out our Vocation of Mercy in and through this vocation. If we are single, we bring our Vocation of Mercy with us wherever we go and to whomever we meet. If we are religious or priests, then our call is to live our congregational vocation fully so as to be witnesses to the God whose name IS mercy.
One of the cards I received for my ordination last June had a simple yet striking message written on it, it read 'always be a man of mercy: be kind to people and try to love them as Christ loves them'. I often return to it to get me back on track when I get caught up in the busyness of daily life and ministry. It acts as an anchor point and a harbour for self reflection: A refresher, a signpost and a reminder.
Every person has the vocation to be a person of mercy and to try to love others as Jesus loves them. To help us navigate this it may be important to ask ourselves how does he love us? How do I love others? What do I need to do to try to align these two expressions of love? In what ways can I be mercy?
It's my hope and prayer that the seeds sewn over this year will bear abundant fruit. Of course, we need to water, nourish and tend to them by our prayer, good intentions and actions. However, we are not alone; we're never alone.
As we approach Advent we can be reassured by the words of the Angel: 'Emmanuel'... God is with us!
Br Martin OFM Cap
Vocations Promoter for the Irish Capuchin Province