The pope has declared the Jubilee year a year of mercy, which is odd because there’s not usually a “theme.” Yet, this declaration voices the desperation many of us feel for the current state of our world. We desperately need peace, and everyone has their own opinion about how to achieve that peace.
Pope Francis feels there is a great lack of mercy in this world, and when you think about all that is going on that could benefit from mercy, the immediate reaction of most would be, why? Why would we show mercy to someone who is willing to blow him/herself up to kill others? Why would we show mercy to those who trade women and young girls like chattel, then beat them and abuse them for resisting? Why would we show mercy to someone who picks up a gun to massacre innocent people? Why?
For those of you not familiar with Christian beliefs, we believe our God is a merciful God. Even the worst of us sinners can be forgiven, and we don’t have to do anything to earn it. When we’re able to admit our sins and ask for forgiveness, we are simply forgiven. Then some might say, well you could easily just keep doing bad things then, and then be forgiven. Sure, you could, but when was the last time you truly asked for forgiveness? It’s not always so easy, especially when it comes to forgiving yourself. Part of forgiveness is always about forgiving yourself, because you can’t truly be free of your sins until you’ve forgiven yourself.
Think about the concept of “paying it forward.” An acquaintance of mine was telling us how earlier last week he was in line at The Coffee Bean to get his morning cup of coffee before work. When he got to the front of the line to order, the barista told him that the gentleman ahead of him paid for his coffee. He was totally caught off guard and suddenly filled with incredible gratitude. He of course, wanted to pass on the little blessing he received to the next person, so then bought the coffee of the person behind him, to hopefully keep spreading the joy. Imagine if this went on all day, and hundredshe’ of people received a bit of joy, and hundreds of people passed that joy on. What a beautiful thing that is to think about, isn’t it?
That same “pay it forward” concept applies to mercy. When one person shows you mercy, it opens up your heart, because then you’re inclined to show someone else that kind of mercy. Perhaps, instead of flipping the bird to the jerk driving like a maniac, you’ll be more relaxed and just pray that he starts driving more safely and doesn’t hurt anyone. Perhaps your brother is being incredibly selfish and instead of chewing his ear off, you show him he’s loved.
I think that that’s what Pope Francis means and intends by declaring the Jubilee year, which begins today—to spread mercy around the world like a continuous pay it forward chain, until there’s more peace in this world. And remember that it must start with yourself. Accept the wrongs you’ve done, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself everyday if you have to, and accept this forgiveness. Forgive yourself, because for every day that you are on this earth you should do something that makes it a better place, even if it’s smiling at a stranger, rather than consume yourself with what cannot be changed. You never know what a seemingly small thing could have an incredible impact.
Think about it. Have a little mercy.
BIG LOVE & HUGS