December 2015


Experiencing God’s Mercy. That all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving.

This month on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we begin the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  We pray, with Pope Francis, that all people may experience the mercy which God desires for them.

In announcing this special year, Pope Francis quoted Pope St. John Paul II, calling mercy “the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer.” This being so, the “Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person.”

A big temptation is to doubt God’s mercy. Pope Francis wrote: “Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive.”  

God always offers mercy, but the sinner has to accept the offer. The sinner needs to recognize his or her sin and the need for mercy.  God’s mercy calls us to conversion, that is, turning away from sin. Pope Francis said: “I direct this invitation to conversion even more fervently to those whose behavior distances them from the grace of God. I ask them this in the name of the Son of God who, though rejecting sin, never rejected the sinner.”  

In his concluding remarks, the pope invited us to live out each day “the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us. In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us. He never tires of throwing open the doors of his heart,” repeating that “he loves us and wants to share his love with us.”

How have I experienced the mercy of God? What part did conversion play in my experience?

Micah 7: 18-20  “You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.”



Families. That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.

The celebration of Christmas is a time of joy, yet in many families the season is a source of pain. Christmas cards and stories show families coming together and sharing food and presents in an atmosphere of warm peace. But in many cases, that is not what families experience. Instead there is alienation, conflict, or poverty.

Pope Francis asks us to join him in praying for all families but especially those who are suffering. We’re praying that the mystery of Christmas may give them hope.  

The pope said: “God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance. Christ’s love is different!” Jesus saved us by entering into the broken human condition, experiencing the effects of sin, sharing in human suffering, and even in death itself.  

“God’s becoming human is a great mystery! But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things.”
Thus the Son of God shared also in the life of a family that faced its own problems—poverty, homelessness as the family fled as refugees to a foreign country, and the anxiety of a lost child. Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us.  He is our hope that no matter what struggles we face as families, we are not alone.  When he is at the center of our lives as individuals and families, we will have the grace—the wisdom and strength—to deal with our problems.

How has the mystery we celebrate at Christmas given me hope?

Philippians 2: 1-11  Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.