2016 Pentecost message for Canadian Catholic movements and associationsThursday, May 12 2016
Dear Members of Movements and Associations,
In his Bull of Indiction proclaiming the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis said:
“The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.” (Misericordiae Vultus 12)
As with all graces from God, the Holy Father is offering us both a gift and a responsibility.
The gift we are being offered is a fresh experience of the Mercy of God. Mercy, as we all know, is a very powerful gift – it is forgiveness, when justice would demand punishment. This is why we can only fully appreciate the gift of mercy when we first understand the consequences our sins might merit; namely alienation from God – not because God has abandoned us, but because we have turned our back towards God’s constant love. The mercy of God is the love that overcomes the loneliness and emptiness our sins can cause. How blessed we are that God chooses to hold out to us the great gift of mercy; freeing us from sin and restoring us completely in a relationship of love.
The responsibility with which we are challenged is to become ambassadors of God’s mercy. In his great love, the Father chose to reveal his mercy in the greatest way possible. In his Son, Jesus became the mercy of God made flesh. As God once chose to do through his Son, he now desires to do through each one of us. We who have first experienced the mercy of God are now asked to be the ones who make God mercy human and real for the sake of those we encounter day in and day out. What a blessing we can be for those whose lives we touch with the mercy of God.
In this Jubilee of Mercy, we are invited to open ourselves to the gift of mercy and we are invited to take up the responsibility of promoting mercy. Our membership in the various Movements and Associations gives each of us unique opportunities to both experience God’s mercy and be ambassadors of God’s mercy. Therefore, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).
Standing Committee for Relations with Movements and Associations
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops