By María G. Covarrubias
We are ending a year that for sure brought opportunities, graces and difficulties.
For me, 2015 began with my grandson, Ayden, in the hospital for 15 days. This was a time of uncertainty as the diagnosis was not clear; a time of prayer and supplication to the Lord, followed by a time of happiness and thanksgiving for his coming home and his recovery.
Also, during this year, I had the opportunity to share for several months in the planning for the pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. I actually attended this wonderful event in which the outpouring of God’s grace and mercy was tangible through the atmosphere of love, fellowship, welcoming, witnessing of our Catholic faith, and joy of millions of people who were present and others who saw it on television. The visit of Pope Francis to our country saturated our lives with his presence and charism, witnessing to the love and mercy of God with all those he met during his visit.
December was a full month, as we entered into Advent, a time of waiting, vigilance, and anticipation, we were surprised by the terrible attack in which 14 people died and many others were injured. Our hearts and lives stopped to grieve and mourn this inexplicable event . . . suffering, grief, anger, fear, questions, prayers, empathy, support, and collaboration emerged!
On December 8th, we celebrated the beautiful Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of the Year of Mercy. On this occasion, Bishop Gerald Barnes in his homily expressed the urgency to proclaim God’s mercy and for the Church to be the herald of mercy. He stressed the reasons why we need mercy; we have forgotten what mercy means, we do very little witnessing of our faith, we do not appreciate God and his mercy. We have forgotten what it really means to love and be loved!
Now, we enter into the Christmas season proclaiming God’s love and mercy. From Mary’s “yes” to the birth, life and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, everything confirms God’s love and mercy for us. “When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we have done, but because of his mercy, he saved us” (Titus 3:4-5).
But this is not all, in order for this love and mercy to become real in us, our families, our society and our world, each of us has to consciously and intentionally give a response! Let us recall, reflect, remember and share with others moments when God has encountered us with his love and mercy! Where, how and when it happened! We are urged to reconnect with our God with no conditions or excuses. It is imperative to pray that we experience God’s mercy in a new way! (Bishop Barnes’ homily, Opening Mass for Year of Mercy on 12/8).
The Church in her wisdom also offers us concrete ways in the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy (see the list below). By practicing them, we promote mercy and a better world for future generations. Each of us can do small acts of faith to gain a greater good!
“He will be the joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth” Luke 1:14. Let us continue to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with hope and gratitude remembering and celebrating that “God works through us. We have a mission. We are in the world for a purpose- to receive God’s love and to show God’s love to others. God seeks to heal a broken universe. He asks us to be his witnesses and helpers in that work.” (Love is Our Mission: A preparatory catechesis for the World Meeting of Families).
Questions for reflection:
What mercy of God Am I in most need of? How can I be an instrument to extend the mercy of God? What concrete action can I do to further the mercy that comes from God during this jubilee year?
Corporal Works of Mercy
• Feed the hungry
• Give drink to the thirsty
• Clothe the naked
• Shelter the homeless
• Visit the sick
• Visit the imprisoned
• Bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
• Counsel the doubtful
• Teach the ignorant
• Admonish the sinner
• Comfort the afflicted
• Forgive injuries
• Bear wrongs patiently
• Pray for the living and the dead
Maria G. Covarubbias is Director of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.