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Year of Mercy Reflections

NOVEMBER 2016 - PRAY FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD

Prayer is a gift of God. It connects us with Jesus who connects us with one another. As we acknowledge our dependence on God, we see ourselves connected to each other in Jesus Christ. This connection is not only of this earth.  Like God’s love for us, it is eternal and connects us with those who have died. This spiritual work of mercy, to pray for the living and the dead, highlights the Communion of Saints, the reality of our eternal connection.  It is the union of all of the members of the Church: those who are pilgrims on earth, those who have died and are preparing for heaven in purgatory, and the blessed in heaven, who are described as “saints,” thanks to their baptism.  In our communion, we are called upon to pray for each other, an obligation that does not end with death.

“I believe in the … the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”  Apostles Creed

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OCTOBER 2016 - GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY

Water is essential to human survival. Giving Drink to the Thirsty challenges us to find the means to provide safe, drinkable water for all as a recognition of their human dignity.  It is not just our bodies, however, that thirst. Our souls thirst as well for the living God. Showing mercy to others includes sharing the joy of the Gospel with those whose lives are dry from a lack of meaning.

“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

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SEPTEMBER 2016 - SHELTER THE HOMELESS

In those who are homeless, the face of Christ is revealed.  Recall the story of Christmas.  When Mary and Joseph sought a place to stay, they found no room in the inn. The Christ child, then, was born in a manger in a stable. His very birth showed forth his humility and his wish to witness the infinite love of his Father for the downtrodden and the homeless.  Sheltering the homeless allows a person to live with self-respect and dignity.
 
 “… Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today, I must stay at your house.”  (Lk 19:5)
 

AUGUST 2016 - COUNSEL THE DOUBTFUL / SHARE KNOWLEDGE & FAITH

To "Counsel the Doubtful" means to help someone who is uncertain about a decision to reach a conclu­sion in harmony with his or her ultimate end, which is eternity with God.  To "Share Knowledge and Faith" means informing and forming people in the Gospel principles which enable them to live in accord with their beliefs.

The most urgent task today is “to lead people to discover both their capacity to know the truth and their yearning for the ultimate and definitive meaning of life” (Fides et Ratio #102).

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JULY 2016 - BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL

Merciful like the Father is the “motto” of this Holy Year.  In mercy, we experience God’s love for us.  He gives his entire self, always freely, asking nothing in return, except our love.  This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel.  It is the path we see in Jesus who is “the face of the Father’s mercy.” As the Father loves, so do his children.  Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.  (Misericordiae Vultus 14, 10)

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  Lk 6:36

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JUNE 2016 - WELCOME THE STRANGER

To welcome the stranger means to accept those who come from other places into our communities, our parishes, and our homes even as we would welcome Christ.  To welcome means to regard those who arrive among us with the dignity we owe to the human person, rather than with suspicion; to invite them to integrate into the community and to become participants in its life, and not just observers. In that regard, we are reminded that welcoming immigrants is the tradition of our great nation built with people of many nations seeking to make a life and home here.

No stranger lodged in the street, for I opened my door to wayfarers.“ - Job 31:32

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MAY 2016 - BURY THE DEAD

In burying the dead, the innate dignity of the human person, soul and body, is recognized and honored. In the Book of Genesis, we learn that we were formed in the image of God. In the Gospel, we learn that, in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, we are promised eternal life. In our faith, then, we find our hope that we will rise with the Lord Jesus on the last day. By interring the remains of the dead, we honor them, professing our faith that they are alive in Jesus Christ.
 
“And so, when you and your daughter-in-law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One; and when you buried the dead, I was likewise present with you” (Tb 12:12).

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APRIL 2016 - FEED THE HUNGRY

Whenever we pray the Our Father we say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We ask God for what we need because we believe that what we have is his gift. In this corporal work of mercy, we are reminded that just as we ask our loving Father to provide our sustenance each day, we, in turn, are called to share what we have with those who confront food insecurity so that everyone can be nourished in body and in soul.

“Feeding the hungry is an ethical imperative for the universal Church … the elimination of world hunger has … become a requirement for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet.”  (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, #27)

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MARCH 2016 - FORGIVE OFFENSES AND BEAR WRONGS PATIENTLY

In the course of life, we all encounter moments when we are hurt by someone else. Our initial reaction may be to seek revenge.  These spiritual works of mercy, Forgive Offenses and Bear Wrongs Patiently, challenge us to respond differently, with mercy and forgiveness. Forgiving others can be difficult because we do not have God's limitless mercy and compassion.  But Jesus teaches us that we should forgive as God forgives, relying on him to help us show others the mercy of God. Indeed, it would be difficult for us to forgive others or to bear patiently the wrongs done to us unless we ourselves know that we have been forgiven through the action of Jesus who continually offers us a way to be reconciled with God..

In living out these works of Mercy, we best begin by asking the forgiveness of God, and for his mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.  Acknowledging our own gratefulness for the forgiveness and mercy God gives us in Jesus, we find a way to show that same mercy to others.

“Jesus said, ‘Forgive them, Father! They know not what they do’” (Lk 23:34).

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FEBRUARY 2016 - VISIT THE SICK AND COMFORT THE AFFLICTED

This corporal work of mercy means spending time with a person who is suffering from some physical, emotional, or psychological ailment.  This action also expresses the spiritual work of mercy: comforting the afflicted.  The visit, though a good thing, is not an end in itself but rather an opportunity to recognize that this person is a manifestation of the suffering Christ and that a loving, supportive presence brings solace and comfort.  Often this work of mercy begins at home.

“For I was … ill and you cared for me … Whatever you did for one of these least brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:35-40)

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JANUARY 2016 - CLOTHE THE NAKED

“Clothe the naked” may best be understood if one were to think of this as providing others with what is necessary for them to be clothed with dignity. It is unlikely that we will encounter people who are actually without some clothing.  This work of mercy is asking that we give of our excess so that another person can live with dignity.  What one has to wear impacts how one thinks and feels about oneself.&

“For I was … naked and you clothed me …whatever you did for one of these least brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:35-40).

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DECEMBER 2015 - VISIT THE IMPRISONED

To “Visit the Imprisoned” means to be present to someone whose freedom of movement has been compromised, either due to some form of institutionalization (jail or medical facility) or physical impairment (wheelchair bound).

“…I was in prison and you visited me …whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” (Mt 25:36-40).

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