2016 Maynooth / Ireland
Our lay vocation: Being merciful to each other!
For Christians, especially in this era, it does not stop simply at reaffirming that God is merciful, but clearly indicates that we must be merciful too, by living a greater love, especially by taking care of the little ones, the poor and defenseless.
Pope Francis says our era is an era of mercy, a time for the Church to show “her motherly face to a humanity that is wounded.”
Faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit. Feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, welcoming strangers, offering instruction, giving comfort, that will be our lay vocation. We must be instruments of God's love, of God's peace by being merciful to each other.
Particularly during the Year of Mercy, we lay people are called to recognise our own need for God’s mercy, the greatness of God’s love, and the obligation to assist others by communicating God’s love and mercy through words and deeds, every day. We may not isolate ourselves from others. It is rather a ‘being with’ in order to go forth and encounter others. By listening and learning we can develop our lay vocation. It means that we are the first to proclaim and live the reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity, and love that the Holy Spirit gives us.
Our faith in Christ, who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members.
We must have the courage to go against the tide of this culture of efficiency, this culture of waste. Encountering and welcoming everyone, building solidarity and fraternity to make our society truly human.
Feeling mercy changes everything. It changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God.
We do not exist to condemn people, but to bring about an encounter with the visceral love of God’s mercy. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to go out: to go out from the churches and the parishes, to go outside and look for people where they live, where they suffer, and where they hope. We must go forth toward those who are wounded, who are in need of an attentive ear, understanding, forgiveness, and love.
“God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn,” Pope Francis wrote.
Materials for download:
- Barbara Walshe. Glencree and the Unfinished Peace
- Andreas Lob-Hüdepohl. Challenging Compassion: Xenophobia in the Church and Society
- Steven Vanackere. Dialogue with those of other faiths or convictions. Societal and political focus.
- Thomas Nordlöf. The Layman in the perspective of Psychology