Holy year calls us to reflect on mercy in our own lives

      Things happen. In the course of my job as communications director for the diocese, I not only deal with the media when events – both good and bad – take place, but also the reactions from the people in our diocese – some Catholic, some not. Some have complaints, some are angry; other confused and seek clarification. Many are kind and obviously care deeply about the faith. I’ve certainly spoken with some interesting people over the years.

      However, recently I’ve received more than a handful of calls that I’ve found troubling. The specific issues don’t matter and I’m sure each of these people would consider themselves good Christians. No, what I continue to find troubling is the lack of mercy and compassion in their words.

      I even had one gentleman who, when I gently reminded him we are called by Christ to practice mercy and forgiveness, told me Jesus wasn’t about forgiveness; he was about punishment and retribution…and he seemed serious.

      Wow, that blew me away! The man’s words stayed with me, not only in the moment but throughout the days to come. If there was anything our Lord was definitely about, it was compassion, mercy and forgiveness. He taught us to pray to the Father, “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

      In other words, we will be forgiven by God in the same measure as we show forgiveness to others.

      We can be generous with our compassion and forgiveness when it’s someone we love and it’s a minor infraction. But, when things get really ugly, mercy and any sense of forgiveness easily flies out the window

      I don’t think Jesus meant that it would always be easy. He knew better than anyone, how hard it would be.

      He knew how his end on earth would play out and yet, he still forgave, from the cross, those who put him on that cross. And “those,” include you and me, because, in the end, we are all sinners and our sinfulness drove the nails into Christ’s precious body.

      “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

      Do you ever stop to consider how you will fare when God uses that standard on you? I know I do and my inadequacies in the forgiveness department often pull me up short. Certainly it serves as a wake-up call. How deep is the mercy and compassion we have been asked – no, requested, by Jesus to show to others, not just in the easy circumstance of our lives, but during those gut-wrenching times when every fiber of our human being screams hatred and vengeance?

      Do we allow that tape of self-righteousness to loop in our minds or are we hearing the voice of Jesus calling us to mercy? Again, remember, he never promised it would be easy.

      Pope Francis has proclaimed a Year of Mercy, starting on December 8 this year – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Our diocese and our parishes will sponsor many events throughout the year to inspire us to reconcile with God, while at the same time reconciling with those around us and reflecting on the role mercy plays in our lives. Watch your bulletins and the calendar of events published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic for the many events and opportunities to celebrate the Year of Mercy.

      We will all be called to use this holy year to reflect on the role God’s mercy plays in our lives and how, we in turn, practice mercy with others.


     Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Join The Flock

Flock Note