Thanksgiving: An Time for Mercy, a Time for Reaching Out

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?... You lack one thing; go, sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."(Mk.10:17,21)

The person comes to Jesus and asks him this crucial question. He is really asking “What must I do to have meaning in my life.” Jesus response is to remind him of the basic good that he is called to in the commandments. When the person presses further, Jesus offers a further response.

The further response is direction to make life meaningful now and to truly live the message and mission of Jesus. It is the message of the Kingdom of God, a reign of God for the benefit of all, especially for the poor and the vulnerable.

Pope Francis has declared a jubilee year to begin on 8 December this year. It will last until the end of November, 2016. Such jubilees have been part of the Catholic Christian tradition for some 800 years. The one that we are about to enter has a particular focus. Francis has called our community to a year directed at Mercy.

This year of Mercy is a call to every Christian, in fact it is a call to all humanity to accept the message of mercy that is to be found in God’s reign, God’s dream for our world. It will demand a great openness from each person and each nation, a readiness to accept that we are all people of God born of God’s creating, life-giving love. Thus we are truly our sister’s and brother’s keepers, called to care and compassion for all.

A year of Mercy can be a year of healing, of reaching out to others who are outcasts or forgot. It is an opportunity to include them in our concern and care. In a world marked by division and prejudice, by bitterness and war, Mercy can bring reconciling love and move us to peace.

It is significant that at this time we face a refugee crisis on a scale not seen in decades. Refugees are people that are truly outcasts. They have had to flee their countries and are now totally vulnerable. They find themselves without place and state. Their condition is one that is without hope or future. What an opportunity as we enter a jubilee year directed at Mercy to show openness and compassion for these most vulnerable of God’s people.

Our parish community here at St. Theresa’s and other parishes in our diocese as well as other churches and communities are being invited to be vehicles of Mercy for those most in peril. Through sponsorship of refugee families from Syria we have the opportunity to live this year of Mercy, and beyond. In the next weeks and months we will be inviting our whole community to become engaged in opening the door to those most in need. May we be blessed by their presence among us.

As we celebrate our Thanksgiving this weekend and express our gratitude to God for all of life’s gift may we respond to the call that makes God dream of the fullness of life available to all. In particular may we answer the call that we have in this year of Mercy to be open, compassionate and welcoming to all God’s people.