Mercy in All Areas of Life
I had never been a very dedicated follower of the popular Divine Mercy devotion. But around 2016, the time of the Year of Mercy, and even before when I got hold of a copy of the book Mercy by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the concept began to intrigue me.
I understand that the Divine Mercy devotion, based on the diary of St Faustina, focuses very strongly on God’s mercy and, of course, the invocation, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
What began to interest me particularly was the wider focus of mercy, and I found it greatly challenging while working on Marfam’s daily thoughts which during that year were called “Mercy Minutes”.
This last Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, I was doing parish promotions. I didn’t have much time to share my insight but I tried a little to remind the families in the congregation that “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy”, and that each of us, beginning in our families, is called to be “merciful like the Father”.
Mercy is such a common word in the Church. We use it all the time. Mercy includes but is also more than kindness and care. It includes reconciliation, forgiving and experiencing forgiveness.
In a big way it includes reaching out to times and experiences of suffering.
Mercy in the Family
A list of merciful family acts listed such points as: do an extra chore, leave the last biscuit on the plate for someone else, don’t complain, forget about fairness, turn off lights. Yes, nice thoughts, but I believe it still needs to go deeper.
In the document “The Face Of Mercy” for the Year of Mercy, and also in his letter at the end of the year, Misericordia et Misera, Pope Francis does so. For him mercy brings joy.
“Pardoning offences becomes the clearest expression of merciful love. To let go of anger, violence and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully,” he said.
“Mercy is not opposed to justice but expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner. God envelops justice and surpasses it with love as the foundation of true justice.”
And, Pope Francis noted, Jesus’ mercy restores the dignity of the woman caught in adultery.
Mercy for the Earth
And that brings us to another one of Pope Francis’ concerns: “The world our common home”.
We have been anything but merciful in the way we treat our Earth. We abuse her, neglect her needs, squander her gifts and resources, directly and also indirectly through pollution.
I hear that some banks and businesses are seriously concerned about reducing their carbon footprint. But what is this and how can we all help in our own environments?
A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air, mainly through fossil-fuel burning in industry, trucks, planes, ships and cars.
Each of us has our own carbon footprint, related to our own energy needs. You need transportation, electricity, food, clothing, and other goods.
Saving on electricity in the home is a big saving, for example by using energy-efficient light-bulbs, switching off lights and electrical equipment when not in use. Use public transport, walk or ride a bicycle wherever you can. A 2km car trip can put 2kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, and the CO2 in the end is what causing global warming.
Pope Francis once even suggested cutting out air-conditioning and reducing heating where possible.
Kids are learning about this at school and they can teach the rest of us. We can do many things ourselves, as individuals, families, parishes and communities; lobbying others in the workplace, schools and clubs.
There is lots of information available for families to build their awareness, on websites such as www.environment.co.za/eco-green-living and www.climatekids.nasa.gov/review/how-to-help/
This is a useful theme for being family-friendly in many ways. And couldn’t we say that being family-friendly is also being merciful?
It allows us to think, do, inspire others, help those who suffer, and especially as spiritual people thank and praise God. After all, it is first of all God’s world which he shares with us and has asked us to take responsibility for.