Our Novena of Peace concludes with the realization that peace is the fruit of love. Love is expressed so many ways large and small.
Love is mercy, gratitude, vulnerability, forgiveness, responsibility, awareness, and all the habits we consciously choose that reveal our belief in the sacredness of all life and of our world.
It gives me hope that such a large institution as the Catholic Church is committing itself to an entire year of mercy now when so much of the world is in such crisis. I would encourage anyone, Catholic or not, to continue to reflect on the ways we can live a mission of mercy.
“…wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.” …During this Jubilee, the Church will be called even more to heal these wounds, to assuage them with the oil of consolation, to bind them with mercy and cure them with solidarity and vigilant care. Let us not fall into humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new! Let us ward off destructive cynicism! Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! May we reach out to them and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity!” Pope Francis Misericordiae Vultus
And please continue to pray for peace with me. I believe we are close to that tipping point that will shift us from a people who are cynical, afraid, and separate to a people who can love with vulnerable abandon.
One last thought on mercy: when my daughter was in fifth grade, her class did a musical about the computer technologies that were just becoming pervasive. There was a line in the refrain of one song about programming that stated, “garbage in, garbage out.” It’s a concept to remember as we move more deeply into our political season.
The soul of our nation will be revealed in the decisions we make in 2016—during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. I pray we have the courage and strength to be a nation of compassion, releasing the revenge and fear that has gripped us since September 11, 2001.
Our final reflection questions:
Am I willing to be an oasis of mercy? How will I fan my divine spark to accomplish that?
Our concluding prayer for this Novena is the prayer spoken by the Lakota Elders on December 29th during the 125th commemoration of the massacre at Wounded Knee:
Grandfather, Give us your reverence and understandings so that we may live onward with all of creation in the fullness of compassion and caring; for the wholeness and well-being of all created, in eternal life, now and forever.