This week’s article is written by the Rev. Jim Wheeler, a member of Godfrey First United Methodist Church, 1100 Airport Road.
“In my opinion, the strongest message of the Lord is mercy.”
Putting feet to his words, Pope Francis declared a year of mercy for the church under his leadership. No doubt that is a worthy goal or mission emphasis for the Catholic Church’s life over the year. And it would be a worthy emphasis for all churches and community ministries.
Jesus Christ was the personification of God’s mercy for the world’s people. Jesus was constantly approached by people appealing, “Have mercy on us!” And Jesus healed, forgave, blessed them, enlightened them and cast out their demons. He raised some who had died and promised that all would rise by his mercy in the forgiveness of sins.
Beyond a declaration, the pope acted upon his declaration, visiting the sick, those in prison and blessing individuals and crowds with the mercy of Jesus, even on his recent visit to our United States.
It seems like a simple thing and admirable for one person to do, but what if the passion of this pope sparked a movement of people of all faiths to make mercy our priority this year? What might we do to express mercy to others in the next 12 months? And what might that experience do for us? After all, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”