Sunday was Home Mission Sunday and the theme this year is to emphasise the importance of proclaiming the mercy of God. This is in response to the challenge set by Pope Francis to make the task of proclaiming God’s mercy a priority in the forthcoming Year of Mercy starting on 8th December. He writes: ‘How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God! May the balm of mercy reach everyone.’ (Misericordiae Vultus 5)
In a pastoral letter from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, published yesterday, they said the key to effective proclamation is “…to be ready to live constantly in the presence of God, knowing that God never takes his eyes off us, not to catch us out, but because he loves us so much. When we are constantly aware of that loving gaze which is upon us, and of the mercy and encouragement that flows our way, then we are enabled to look on others in the same way.”
“These are the foundations of evangelisation. On them, other steps can be built: the opportunity to speak about our faith; the expression of that love in programmes of action towards those most in need; a loving care for those who have been hurt by life and hurt within the Church, for whom any return to the practice of their faith is particularly difficult. In this effort for evangelisation we seek out ways of accompanying others, through friendship, through prayer, through conversation, so that they sense in us the welcome that God most certainly extends to them. Our efforts need not be complicated or heroic. As Our Blessed Lady reminds us, through our humble efforts the Lord can do great things!”
The challenge for us as RCIA catechists is to focus on the question of: ‘How do we bring mercy into our ministry of RCIA’. Here are some suggestions:
- Make the most of the resources available from the Home Mission desk which came out of the Proclaim ’15 national evangelisation event in July. Available at: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/Home/Special-Events/Proclaim-15-Building-Missionary-Parishes
- Do a Bible reflection on one of the parables of mercy: The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31); The sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:34-40); The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); (Matthew 18:21-35); The lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7).
- Read through the works of mercy both spiritual and corporal and reflect on how your parish could develop different aspects. (See CCC 2447).
- Reflect on mercy in your own life. Is there an act of mercy you could do in your own life to show the love of God in action?
Let us live out the words of Pope Francis: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew…I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelisation, marked by this joy.’ (Evangelii Gaudium)