It is clear from the Gospels that Jesus was a man of mercy.
Whether turning water into wine at a wedding feast or curing a variety of illnesses, Jesus performed miracles as merciful responses to human need. Even when he and his apostles needed rest from their efforts, as we read in Mark’s Gospel (6:34), “he saw a large crowd and took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at length.”
Jesus taught the meaning of mercy not only through his example but also through parables he told, such as the Lost Sheep, where he describes a shepherd who is not content to remain with the 99 sheep that are safe and sound but searches far and wide to bring back the one that had strayed. Or when he imagines a father rushing out to welcome home a son who had strayed, never mentioning the wrong the son had done but embracing him with unconditional love.
Pope Francis reminds us that this is the kind of love we are called to share as missionary disciples of Jesus. Is it any wonder that the pope chose the story of the Prodigal Son to set the tone for the Jubilee Year of Mercy that he has declared from Dec. 8, 2015 to Nov. 20, 2016? “It is indeed my wish that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective,” Pope Francis says.
Throughout this special year, Maryknoll magazine will focus on the theme of mercy. We begin in this issue with Father Joseph Veneroso’s poetic reflection on the Prodigal Son. Sister Bernice Kita introduces our spirituality series on mercy with her remembrance of the compassion she witnessed in the midst of a brutal civil war in Guatemala. Several Maryknoll missioners share their Mercy Moments in a new column we are inaugurating to which we hope you, our readers, will contribute (see pages 18–19 of the print edition for more information on sending your submissions).
As we missioners can attest, in a wounded world where we daily hear reports of violence and brutality, mercy still abounds. We have only to open our eyes and hearts to see it and share it.
May this new year bring you many moments of mercy.