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Mercy Mandate

We are currently in an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy that concludes on 20 November 2016. The Year of Mercy is a “Jubilee” where traditionally (as old as Moses and the Old Testament) there was a remission of debts and liberation of slaves.

This Jubilee is even “extraordinary” as it has been proclaimed outside the usual time to commemorate some outstanding event (one of only three over the past 700 years)! So why now? We are experiencing such extraordinary times in our world such as the conflict in Syria, the plight of refugees and the ongoing destruction of our environment. Pope Francis’ theme for such an extraordinary initiative is: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” So what is mercy? Mercy is closely tied to justice and charity and is a virtue influencing one’s will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune. Indeed, when we show mercy to others, we are also demonstrating God’s mercy. In order to imitate this much needed mercy Pope Francis guides: “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.” So what are these? They are actions we can perform that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need:

Corporal Works of Mercy

Kind acts by which we help our neighbours with their material and physical needs

• feed the hungry
• give drink to the thirsty
• clothe the naked
• shelter the homeless
• visit the sick
• visit the imprisoned
• bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

Acts of compassion by which we help our neighbours with their emotional and spiritual needs

• counsel the doubtful
• instruct the ignorant
• admonish sinners
• comfort the afflicted
• forgive offenses
• bear wrongs patiently
• pray for the living and the dead

In essence, these lists try to challenge us to be more like God (love), through practising a life that is more personal, one to one, warm, and gracious. Jesus even revealed that works of mercy are the measure of how we are treating him: “Whatsoever you do unto the hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, sick, and captive, you do unto me.” So where do we start along this extraordinary journey from indifference towards mercy? I reckon there are ordinary opportunities such as our everyday interactions with others as well as extra ordinary opportunities such as our ATC Service Program! Any merciful journey requires patience (with yourself and others) and proactivity in search of the presence of God (love).