December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception marked the start of an Extraordinary Year of Mercy, called by Pope Francis that we might “gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.”
Here at the Heart of Mary, we found it especially fitting, then, that we had already chosen to study the book of Jonah. While Jonah runs, God pursues. And in the wake of this “reluctant prophet” we see again and again, God’s mercy.
God’s mercy to the Ninevites. God’s mercy to Jonah. God’s mercy to the sailors.
And God’s mercy toward us.
Mercy is, according to Bishop Robert Barron, “what love looks like when it turns toward the sinner…To speak of mercy is to be intensely aware of sin and its peculiar form of destructiveness.”
Jonah then, is certainly a story of mercy. It’s God’s mercy to the sinner, God’s mercy to us, and also our mercy towards others. Let’s take the next two weeks to look at Jonah and contemplate the mastery of mercy. For, as Pope Francis reminds us in Misericordiae Vultus,
“It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”
Together, let’s look at Jonah. Let’s commit to seeking out that little bit of silence “in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us.” So that together, over the course of the next two weeks, it “will be possible to contemplate God’s mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle.” That, through Jonah we might learn to practice mercy and “come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.” (CCC 2447)