Marge Fenelon is an award-winning Catholic author and journalist, blogger, and speaker. She’s a long-time correspondent for National Catholic Register, and the author of several books on Marian devotion and Catholic family life. She’s also a weekly contributor to Relevant Radio’s “Morning Air Show” and a popular guest on several other Catholic radio and television shows. Marge is an instructor for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Deacon Wives Program.
The Year of Mercy is coming to a close.
That means that the associated plenary indulgences will no longer be available to us.
It also means that we’ll be hearing less about mercy during liturgies, events, and in Catholic media.
All of that could mean that mercy as concept and practice will fade into the background. But, it won’t if we do something to keep it from fading away.
Hopefully, during this past year we’ve received indulgences for ourselves and others. Hopefully, we’ve ourselves experienced and in turn extended God’s merciful love to others. Now is an excellent time to savor those gifts and graces and to consider how we’ve benefitted from them.
It’s also an excellent time to resolve to carry that mercifulness into the future and decide how we’ll go about doing that.
Mercy is an individual experience and how we extend it is a personal decision. Still, there are three Scripture verses that I’ve discovered and would like to share with you. I find them to be a great inspiration and guide for going forward.
The first is a directive from our Lord.
“Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful.” (lLk 6:36)
That’s a tall order, but Jesus wouldn’t have said it if he hadn’t meant it. His entire life on earth was spent saying and doing things with the sole purpose of getting every single one of us to heaven. On the other hand, he knows human nature well, and he knows each one of us uniquely. He’s aware that we’re imperfect, and at times even impertinent, in following his will. He wants us to give it our best shot and promises his grace to help us along.
The second is an assurance from the Letter to the Hebrews.
“So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” (Heb 4:16)
I love this verse. It tells us not only to approach the throne of grace, but also to approach it confident that God will indeed grant us his mercy. Furthermore, it assures us that we’ll be given the grace we need speedily. To me, it’s like “ask and it will be given to you” (see Mt 7:7) on steroids. Of course, we must strive to be merciful like the heavenly Father, but when we mess up – and we’re bound to mess up – we have immediate recourse to God’s grace and assistance to get back on track. Fast.
I can’t think of anything more comforting than that.
Third, is the guarantee that when we do strive to be merciful, God will show us his mercy.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Mt 5:7)
This one, seems to me, is for those times when someone has done something to us that we find difficult or even impossible to forgive. It’s for the moments we feel like strangling (figuratively speaking) the schmucks in our lives. It’s for the times when we’ve been so wounded, we think we can never, ever heal. It’s also for the cases in which we feel justified in our anger and moved to revenge or alienation.
Perhaps, having experienced this Jubilee Year, we’ll want to repeat Matthew 5:7 instead of counting to ten before we react to an upsetting situation. I’m certainly going to give it a try.
Sure, the Year of Mercy is ending, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop receiving and giving mercy. We have the rest of our lives to finish what was started in the past many months. God’s merciful love endures forever, and we can count on that.