“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.” These are the opening words “Misericordiae Vultus,” by Pope Francis in proclaiming the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which begins on December 8th. Through this joyful Jubilee, the Holy Father is challenging every Christian to be Merciful like the Father.
The Jubilee year of Mercy is a call to go beyond just forgiving others, to reflect on and practice, both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Pope Francis writes, “It is my burning desire that during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.”
What are the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy? Pope Francis continues, “Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples. Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.”
In response to our Holy Father’s desire, I am asking that we all contemplate how we might more faithfully perform these works of Mercy in our daily lives.