On December 8th, Pope Francis inaugurated this year as Jubilee Year, dedicated to contemplation and reflection on GOD’S MERCY toward us and to the requirements that his LOVE lays upon each one of Christ’s disciples in our daily life.
At the same time, during Advent, we prepare for the liturgical season of CHRISTMAS in which —once again— we commemorate the BIRTH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
What is the message contained in this Jubilee Year of MERCY for the world, and what is the relationship between the merciful love of God for us and the season of CHRISTMAS?
Let us say in the first place that MERCY means literally “a shaking heart over the need of others”. Mercy is, according to the text of the Gospels, that which always moved Jesus to meet the needs (especially of hunger and forgiveness) of those who approached him to listen to him and follow him.
Thus we can say that if there is anything the world needs today, all of humanity, it is clear signs of compassion and mercy by people, communities and nations that have the most human resources (talents) and material goods (financial resources) to favor those who have fewer opportunities for health, education, shelter, work, and a life worth living.
The globalized world has made great advances in terms of material riches, technology and scientific progress of all kinds and yet we also perceive that such accomplishments have generated a global fringe of marginalized people and communities that are not only poor but impoverished due to the cold logic of the predominant economic structure. An impoverishment that constitutes a shame, an affront to the persons and the nations that manage the power, the riches and the technical and scientific resources.
This unjust, unequal and inhuman situation calls for compassion and MERCY. That is to say, there should be a profound inner shaking of everyone, especially for those that suffer the greatest needs of all kinds in our society. Mercy, compassion, inner shaking that is contrary to every kind of discrimination, segregation or simple indifference toward the pain that others suffer.
MERCY requires such a posture of people and nations that makes us aware of the common destiny shared by all human beings, inhabitants of our common home which is the planet Earth. Thus, nothing that happens to another human being (good, or especially painful, apart from his ideology, race, religion, etc.) should be treated with indifference by another person. In the world, we are all affected by what affects everyone else. We are benefitted by that which benefits another human being, and we should suffer for the need of those who are marginalized in our societies.
This is, precisely and essentially, the message of CHRISTMAS: In the baby Jesus “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” God shows pity, compassion and mercy on every person, especially toward the least in the world, on those who are born, live and die in stables. In Jesus of Nazareth God came to share the daily life, the common struggles and the definitive destiny of all humanity. We can say that CHRISTMAS is the manifestation of THE MERCY OF GOD TOWARD US. For that reason, the name of the long awaited One —according to the Old Testament prophets— is EMANUEL, which means “God with us”.
My friends, I invite you to turn our faith and our daily life into a space for MERCY toward all, especially toward the weakest, so that our life might always be CHRISTMAS. So that this Jubilee Year of Mercy might become all the years of our existence on earth, and that CHRISTMAS never end. Merry Christmas and a 2016 full of mercy and blessings!