Headline: MERCY WITHOUT END


Posted on: 2016-11-28


As the Jubilee of Mercy formally closed on November 20, I felt the urge to concretely re-state some sentiments that should not pass with the year. So I wrote a letter to all the faithful which I now share with you. I hope that the letter provokes the reader to appropriate the contents of the jubilee and also enrich its propositions with his personal experience. Here goes: My dear friends, I believe that many of us have tried to live through 2016 as a special Jubilee of God’s mercy. At the end of it we must review how well we have done during the year. Remember that the mercy of our God never ends. Mercy is central to our Christian faith. It is also a key characteristic of our culture. Mercy gives a good balance even to justice. The old Yoruba folk tale about the tortoise and the snail expresses it wonderfully.

The tortoise and the snail once lived in the same village where they were both friends and farmers. At a certain point the snail began to steal from the tortoise's farm.  The tortoise set a trap for him, caught him and tied him to a tree as punishment. Passers-by who, on their way to their farms in the morning, saw the snail and got to know the story, condemned and castigated the offender for his shameless act. But when by evening, returning from their farms, they still found the snail tied to the tree, they changed their music. They began to blame the tortoise for being unforgiving of an offender who, in any case, was his friend.

 

Mercy is an important attribute for community life in Africa. Psalm 136 reads “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good for his mercy never ends”.  There is nothing the world needs every day today more than the mercy of God. Without it our world could not be sustained and human beings would become animals to one another. Our experience shows us this every day. All we need do is to open our eyes and minds.  Some of the greatest hymns we sing are about that fact, like:  “I need thee every hour”, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound”

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The Jubilee of mercy reminded us that we ought to be merciful like God our Father. To help us achieve that, the Church, during the year, gave us some guidelines. We saw, pasted on our church doors or elsewhere, the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. These are basic proposals meant to help us. We can add our own according to our environment. Someone may add the management of the dustbin in a common compound or directing traffic at a dangerous road crossing for children to safely go to school every day in the neighbourhood. Whichever way, we must take our attitude of mercy beyond the Jubilee of Mercy.

Perhaps the best way to perpetuate the jubilee for Mercy is to begin by being merciful to our very self, then to creation, then to family and others

·         Be merciful to your soul, nourish it!

·         Be merciful to your mind, educate it!

·         Be merciful to your body, care for it,

·         Be merciful to creation. Tend it, do not abuse it.

·         Be merciful to others, in your family, community, workplace etc. 

We often pray in psalm 23, “”Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. This has to mean that each of us must be a true missionary of mercy as we go through life.

I remind you, our Laity, men women and youth, that you have the responsibility of leading our society back to God the Father through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and their positive action in the home church and society. Part of such works is making your voice heard, on issues that concern daily life in our society by every legitimate means possible including the media. You are all called to do your best according to various areas of your competence.

Men, be responsible Fathers!  As our Fathers, please do your duties to your family. Be responsible husbands and models to your children in prayer and honest living. You, our dear women, please be aware of your role as custodians of life and protect that life inside you when you carry it. You are also the first teachers of your children along with their fathers. The home is also in your care. Be merciful mothers! You, our youth have abundant energy, exuberance and a sense of solidarity. Use them to transform your environment and world. Respect and obey your parents and guardians. It is an act of mercy as well for their peace of mind and for your own sanity. Priests and Religious, be available to your people. Treat them with compassion. Be kind to one another too for no one can give what he does not have and whatever you sow is what you reap.

Generally, as the Jubilee of Mercy ends let us always obey God, obey the Church and our priests (Heb. 13:17). The whole world will learn from us in that manner and that fact will ensure our salvation. Overall, write the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy in your hearts and practice them because they belong to the foundations of Christian living.

May the mercy of God continue to abide in your hearts, your homes, your family, our Church and country through Jesus Christ our Lord. May it be well with you all! Amen.


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