Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, is our hope.
He is the highest expression of God’s mercy for every human being. His mercy is sorely needed in our society consumed by violence. We witness violence in different degrees throughout the world and across our nation. It appears in our cities, our homes, in our schools and most tragically violence has reached the unborn in the womb of their mothers. No one is immune.
Does violence have a common denominator? I believe we could say that all violence is rooted in the marginalization or negation of God’s love. As the presence of God becomes less and less discernible in our society violence can only increase.
Is there a solution? The long-term solution is for all of us as men, women and young people of faith is to become a sign of God’s mercy today. Christ provided us the blueprint in His second commandment; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:39) If we love those around as we love ourselves we would never do them wrong, we would never harm them, we would never perpetrate violence upon them. Notice that the Lord stated this as an affirmative act. He commands us to love one another. It is not enough to love by omission, which is to love someone by not hurting him or her. The virtue of mercy requires us not only to have compassion but also to alleviate our brother’s tribulation.
Our church over the centuries has developed expressions of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. The corporal works of mercy include to: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; care for the sick; visit the imprisoned; and bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are to: instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; admonish sinners; bear wrongs patiently; forgive offenses willingly; comfort the afflicted; and pray for the living and the dead.
This is something that as Christians—challenged by the New Evangelization—we must be responsible for and active participants in. To show mercy means to put ourselves in the place and in the position of showing love to everyone.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, talking to the youth of Mexico about the violence that is pervasive in their country, said that to change the world we must first of all change ourselves. This is at the heart of the New Evangelization. Each of us is a missionary and each of us has a mission. We must spread the Gospel in word, yes, but also in deed.
The word of God must first permeate into our own lives and then to those around us—family, friends, neighbors, classmates, parishioners, etc. I appeal to all of us, especially during this centennial year, to be renewed by a fresh love for God’s word and the sacraments of the Church, to renew ourselves in an active witness to our faith. This is demanded by the New Evangelization. If faith is alive in us God’s mercy will become more visible and present to others With new faith, we ourselves can receive God’s mercy through the presence of Jesus in all of the sacraments of the Church and share His mercy with others.
Let us therefore move forward into the New Evangelization—into the Year of Faith, which is approaching in October of this year—as a time of renewal. Let us move forward with our lives rooted in God’s love, His immense love, for each one of us and for every human being. We must be convinced that we are and can be instruments and ambassadors of the Father’s mercy for everyone.