May 1, 2016
In formal documents, presentations, and homilies outlining the purpose of this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis explains that compassion and understanding for those in difficult situations is not only our individual responsibility, but something the whole Church officially needs to manifest. Today's Acts of the Apostles reading presents a moving example of the early church doing precisely that. Prayerful openness to the Holy Spirit assures the assembly that they have not acted alone in discerning the correct resolution: "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us." And they have chosen the compassionate response: "not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities" (Acts 15:28). Yet how daringly creative—the Jewish majority sets aside lifelong rituals that establish spiritual identity and express covenant fidelity. How radically trustful—the church affirms universally valid principles while respecting uniquely local and personal situations. Exactly the grace Pope Francis prays this Jubilee Year will renew in today's Church!
- Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: "If you knew the gift of God!"
You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.