from Pax Christi Metro New York
Thus says the God of hosts: Judge with true justice, and show kindness and compassion toward each other. Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the resident alien or the poor; do not plot evil against one another in your hearts.
Pope Francis has declared this an “Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy” and has specifically asked that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). In his Lenten Message for 2016, he guides us in how to do just that.
First, Pope Francis encourages us to listen attentively to the word of God. There we hear of God’s infinite mercy, tenderness, and compassion, even and especially to the least faithful. We learn of God’s unconditional love as God seeks to restore relationships wounded by sinfulness. We observe God’s mercy in action, reaching out to our forebears, offering them a new chance to look, convert, and believe (Misericordiae Vultus, 21).
Then Pope Francis invites us to experience God’s mercy, ourselves, and to share it with others. He notes that “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn.” It inspires us to engage in “concrete, everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit;” that is, to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and to reject arrogance, greed, and indifference toward the poor and the environment.
Finally, Pope Francis reiterates that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favorable time to…listen to God’s word and practice the works of mercy,” to reach out to “our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited,” and to touch our own sinfulness through “counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer.” As he concludes, “Let us not waste this season of Lent, so favorable a time for conversion!”