The Year of Mercy may have come and gone, but Mercy is still an integral part of our spiritual lives. Living Mercy allows us to focus on the truths clearly manifested in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel— the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Perhaps we need to consider a second chance for those innkeepers who may have offered Mary and Joseph a place to stay had they only known who was seeking shelter.
It’s often easy for us to reconsider former decisions and different positions in life, isn’t it? We often do some course corrections and admonish ourselves with the old adage that “hindsight is 20:20.” New and different views and ideas are often born out of new information. The Gospel, however, urges us to look forward, to apply new information based on the reality of the Incarnation—the coming of God into the world of humanity.
Among the difficult issues facing the country today that leave many of us sad, angry and perplexed, we might consider poverty, homelessness, or illegal immigration, to name a few. Attend a social gathering or have a dinner party and bring up any of these issues and you will hear strong—very strong—opinions being offered with equally strong conviction.
With these thoughts in mind, let us be mindful that we have just spent an entire year pondering and celebrating the Church’s operation as the agent of mercy in the proclamation and the life of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Church manifests the life and purpose of the Incarnation in Her expression of the mission of Jesus Christ. The mission of Christ has the Church to live and celebrate the life and ministry of Jesus. Pope Francis, most recently expounding on the missionary aspect of the Church in his decree Ad Gentes (On the Mission Activity of the Church), reminds us all of the manner in which the life of the Trinity is expressed through the Sacrament of Baptism, thus making the Church “missionary” in its very nature.
The Church’s participation in the mission of Jesus is not just something that the Church “does;” it is, rather, constitutive of who the Church “is.”
Therefore, when we review the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, especially in contemplation of a need for innkeepers to spiritually make room for Joseph and Mary, we all must be aware of the challenge to find room in our hearts for the people who are poor and homeless—many of whom are immigrants—in our society today. Advent is a good time for us to interiorize the message of sheltering the homeless in a very practical sort of way!