The Pope has designated 2016 as the ‘Year of Mercy‘ – you’ve probably seen the banners outside the Catholic churches with the slogan ‘Nobody is excluded from God’s mercy‘ – but what does that actually mean? Why does the Pope feel so strongly about it that a friar travels all the way from Rome to visit us in South Wales this weekend?
Mercy isn’t solely about mercy from judgements. It has another meaning for Franciscans, and the central theme of what the Friar and the rest of us discussed was mercy in the context of providing assistance to those in need. For us it was a reflection (with many tangents) on why St. Francis chose to live and work amongst the poor, and why religious societies generally feel a duty to provide care.
Often we’re often called upon to reach those who, society being the way it is, are treated like outcasts. Some Catholics also make a vow never to ignore a person who asks for help – a tough vow to keep for anyone working in the city. Mercy is largely about showing kindness to those who need it, regardless of their life choices, and doing away with the distinction between the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ poor. We do it because dignity, compassion and the alleviation of their suffering is their right – addressing that is also a central definition of ‘justice’ in the Catechism.
The Seven 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
Edited to add: Saw this sculpture in the chapel – it was massive: