The Year of Mercy and Mary

The Place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Jubilee Year of Mercy

– Celia Chua MIC, Easter time 2016

Introduction:

Pope Francis proclaimed that the year 2016 is the Year of Mercy. The them is taken from the Gospel of St. Luke 6:36, Be merciful as your Father is merciful. I am sure many conferences have been organized in the parishes in order to deepen the meaning of mercy (reflection, prayers) and give us some concrete ways (actions) to actualize it as missionary disciples of Jesus. My contribution on this topic of mercy is not to multiply knowledge, but to integreate and unify the doctrine of the Church with practices of devotion. First, I will simply recall the meaning of Mercy in Hebrew, some resources used by Pope Francis, then, the importance of an experiential process of mercy in our daily life, and finally, show how the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy and her Immaculate Heart can guide us to be merciful as the Father is merciful.

1. The meaning of mercy in Hebrew

Hesed is used in the Old Testament, especially in the psalms to describe God. In of mercy is even translated from Hebrew as loving kindness, tenderness filled with compassion and pity. For the Jewish people, hesed goes deeper than the surface of doing good deeds., it is a process of transformation into a being of mercy like the Father. The hesed root words come from the symbol for the womb of a mother. When we speak about mercy, it is the source of God's inner being, loving kindness, compassion, and pity.

Hesed calls for experiences of pardon, forgiveness and many more that extend the horizon of personal relationship with God to others.

For example in the New Testament, Jesus reflects that face of incarnate mercy of God. In many parables, especially the Good Shepherd, Jesus cares, protects, guides, and nourishes the sheep. He is he model of a true human relationship, mutual friendship, and affection as members of a Christian community.

2. The importance  of experiential process, Misericordiae Vultus, 2015 #8,19.

Pope Francis, in his letter on the Jubilee Year of Mercy, points out the importance of a transformation process (conversion) that needs personal experiences of God's Mercy in our own life before being able to be merciful to others. We need to remember our own personal salvation history in the light of God's loving kindness, full of tenderness and compassion. In the silence of our heart, with open hands, we need to name the graces received then give thanks. In our family, society, community, and other groups where we belong, the presence of God's merciful love can be recognized if only we have but an attentive heart like Mary who ponders in her heart and exclaims that, indeed, it is the Lord who works wonderful deeds!

Mercy is the source of our Christian life and love because God is merciful. Hence, if we experience God, can we keep it to ourselves? Definitely not. We share the good news. The joy of the Gospel reaches out especially to those who are in need. The works of mercy are multiple as well as the spiritual works of mercy. The Holy Spirit of God will guide us to put our feet and extend our hands to where and with whom the suffering of Christ is most needed.

3. Mary in the Jubilee of Mercy: she is the Mother of Mercy and Mother of the Immaculate Heart.

We contemplate Mary with her thousand faces and many titles. One that stands out during this year is Mary, Mother of Mercy and her Immaculate Heart.

She is mother of Jesus, the incarnate mercy of God, the Father. She has experienced God's mercy from Annunciation to Assumption. In her song of the Magnificat, she sings God's mercy not only for herself, but for all generations.

Mary's heart is immaculate as the Church is anticipating the centennial of the apparition in Fatima, Portugal (1917-2017). A brief summary of the 13 apparations of Mary to three children is in the important message of conversion and prayer, in another word, to retrun to God's love and mercy. Mary manifested to the three children her Immaculate Heart. What is in the inner life of Mary's heart that is immaculate? It is the fruit of her immaculate conception. She is created according to the original plan of God for humanity: pure and sinless. In the plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ, we are invited to fashion our hearts to resemble the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The true devotion o the Immaculate Heart of Mary is realted to God's mercy. It corresponds to the inner life and beauty of Mary, coming from the very source of God's graces. In the beauty of her "yes" and throughout her life, Mary is completely transformed by God's mercy. Her inner life rests upon the Mercy of God for here and her people.

Her beauty is salvific, she is the Mother for all humanity, and she intercedes for us, the humble and the needy. Her beauty is by her example: she protects and guides us to forgive, pardon and be merciful as the Father is. In sum, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, rich in mercy, we can invoke her Immaculate Heart to experience and recognize God's mercy.

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