However horrified we are at the brutal killing of Pere Jacques Hamel and the traumatic effect such acts have on whole populations; the perpetrators of violence, hatred and intolerance who defame the peaceful adherents of Islam, must not be allowed to discourage us from being the kind of people described by Pope Francis to the young pilgrims to the world youth Day events in Poland:
He exhorted them to practice having a merciful heart that takes care of others.
"A merciful heart is able to be a place of refuge for those who are without a home or have lost their home; it is able to build a home and a family for those forced to emigrate; it knows the meaning of tenderness and compassion," said Francis.
"A merciful heart can share its bread with the hungry and welcome refugees and migrants," he continued. "To say the word 'mercy' along with you is to speak of opportunity, future, commitment, trust, openness, hospitality, compassion and dreams."
"Are you all able to dream?" Francis then asked the crowd, adding to his prepared text.
"When the heart is open to dreaming there is a place for mercy, there is a place for caressing those who suffer, there is a place for putting yourself next to you those who do not have peace in their hearts or lack what is necessary to live," said the Pope.
Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes and communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy. Pope Francis
On eight first Fridays of the month we will held a novena with prayers and readings to reflect and live out in practical terms the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
The Eucharist is supposed to create a new culture, one that is welcoming and only sees the flaws and failures of others as a reminder of one's own need for God's mercy, said Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
He told participants at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress Jan. 24-31 “The Eucharist is the Lord's meal and when the Lord hosts the meal, be prepared to be with surprising 'others,… In the meal hosted by the Lord, persons recognize a close neighbour, a fellow sinner, a sister, a brother with a place at the table," he said. "In each one, I see myself ... sinful but loved, undeserving but invited, shamed but embraced, lost but trusted."
OUR BAPTISMAL CALLING
Today’s feast invites us to reflect on the significance of our own Baptism. As Pope Francis once said: Baptism illuminates us from within with the light of Jesus. … In virtue of this gift, the baptized are called to become “light”—the light of the faith they have received for their brothers, especially for those who are in darkness and do not perceive glimmers of light on the horizon of their life. … You must take the grace of Baptism, that is a gift, and become light for all!
In other words, Baptism is a call to spiritual generosity. It is a call to accept the challenge of witnessing to God’s love in a world that is slow to listen, quick to judge and inclined to dismiss those who live a life inspired by the Gospel.
If we want to be spiritually generous they we could take some inspiration in this year dedicated to God’s mercy from the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Finding opportunities to share God’s love for others by:
Corporal works of mercy
à feeding the hungry
à giving drink to the thirsty
à clothing the naked
à sheltering the homeless
à visiting the sick
à visiting the imprisoned
à burying the dead
Spiritual works of mercy
à counselling the doubtful
à instructing the ignorant
à admonishing sinners (it might be wise to go easy on this one!)
à comforting the afflicted
à forgiving offences
à bearing wrongs patiently
à praying for the living and the dead.