By Larry Livingston, senior writer for Unbound
In Catholic tradition, a holy year is a time of special prayer, pilgrimage and grace. They normally occur every 25 years, but there can be exceptions for special occasions.
2016 is one of those exceptional years, with Pope Francis proclaiming this The Holy Year of Mercy. During this time, the pope has invited not only Catholics but all people of goodwill to enter into deeper reflection on the concept of mercy.
So let's reflect a bit, through the lens of Unbound.
Mercy is, first and foremost, a reflection of God's love.
Pope Francis said, "The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is, he desires our well-being and he wants to see us happy, full of joy and peaceful."
Accepting God's mercy is a deeply personal act that calls each of us to examine our own brokenness, failings and need for healing. It requires an interior honesty and humility that is not always evident in a world accustomed to rationalization and the deflection of responsibility.
Part of that interior process is taking ownership of the consequences our choices have on others. Some of these are obvious and immediate to our daily lives. We generally know when we hurt those around us and, while not easy, we also know what we need to do to repair those relationships. But what is more complicated — and more challenging — is taking ownership of the impact our choices have on the world.
Unbound understands that challenge and we seek to gently companion people on their journey into deeper human solidarity. By helping to open the eyes of our sponsors to the realities of those living in material poverty, and by nurturing relationships of mutual love and respect between them and their sponsored friends, we believe we reveal a gift that, for those who choose to embrace it, is priceless.
Benefiting from God's mercy compels us to share it. Pope Francis said, "As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other." We see the wisdom of those words lived out daily within the Unbound community.
The mercy we see expressed by so many of our sponsors is more than just acts of kindness from people with power toward those without. While such gestures are good and appreciated for their own sake, we also witness something deeper — expressions of mercy that flow from the blessed awareness that we are, each of us, broken, that we need one other, and that anything that diminishes one human being diminishes us all.
In a sense, that kind of mercy is a gift one gives not only to another, but to oneself. A priceless gift.
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About the Author
Unbound is an international nonprofit founded by lay Catholics grounded in the Gospel call to put the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable first. We build relationships of mutual respect and support that bridge cultural, religious and economic divides. We bring people together to challenge poverty in 18 countries. We invite you to join us. Find us on Facebook or Twitter.