This week, the United States will inaugurate its 45th president. It will officially mark the end of a very long—and nasty—election season. A season that, let’s be honest, did not showcase our kindest and most caring behavior.
Nor was it exactly the model of mercy, which seems even more odd, seeing as it all took place during the extraordinary jubilee Year of Mercy in our Church. When Pope Francis called for the jubilee celebration in April 2015, the election cycle was just getting ramped up.
The theme of the jubilee was “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). The reason for the jubilee, said the pope, was “because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
How providential those words seem in hindsight.
No One’s Immune
Unfortunately, throughout this past election, even our Church has not been immune to being unmerciful at times. Don’t believe me? Read the comments following articles on any number of Catholic publication websites. Mercy is not often the first word that springs to mind.
We become passionate about our beliefs and sometimes forget to be merciful to those who do not share those beliefs. That’s not OK. Stating and defending our beliefs is honorable. Doing so at the expense of someone else or belittling a person for his or her beliefs is not.
A Friendly Reminder
By the time you read this, the Year of Mercy may have already become a distant memory for you. That’s OK. In our world of fast-paced social media and the 24-hour news cycle, things tend to fall off our radar quickly.
But if you take a quick look around, you’ll see that the need for mercy certainly has not gone anywhere. You will also see that it extends well beyond the issues of this past election season. Mercy seems to be lacking in society in general. I think Pope Francis was definitely onto something when he tried to spark a mercy revolution. He’s gotten the ball rolling. Now let’s see if we can keep it going.
So even though the Year of Mercy has come to an end, I personally think the need for mercy is at an all-time high. And I’m not just talking about the kind of mercy that has you volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Why not extend mercy in
smaller ways, such as speaking up when you see or hear someone belittling someone else? Mercy can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes I think we forget that.
That is why I’m suggesting that we might want to consider extending the Year of Mercy for a while—even if not officially. Perhaps we should continue it indefinitely. After all, we all could use a little more mercy in our lives.