The feast of the Immaculate Conception is a good day on which to begin the Year of Mercy. On the one hand it’s concrete, it’s a reality; and on the other it’s a day of hope. That’s the thing about mercy and hope; if they’re not concrete they’re only words of little value, and mercy and hope have to be more than just words.
Some volunteers get together on a Monday and provide a free meal for people in the Church hall. It’s nothing fancy, mince and potatoes; comfort food I suppose. They also take meals out to people in hostels for recovering drug addicts. It’s mostly recovering drug addicts who make use of the opportunity. Most of them don’t know how to cook because their life was taken over by drugs, so they have to learn to look after themselves again; simple things that we take for granted. It’s surprising how low their self-esteem and confidence is; drugs take that from you as well. Simply having someone serve them a nice meal makes them feel human again. It’s amazing what a simple act of kindness - a little work of mercy can do, and the hope it can bring back to people’s lives. I read on a wall somewhere that what people remember is not what you say or even what you do, but how you make them feel. To make someone feel clean again, to help them overcome their shame, to help them see the beauty of being human again; surely that’s what mercy has to try to do.
God has really made something pretty wonderful in us, but when we lose sight of how wonderful it is, when we begin to question the beauty of it and see only the dark side of things, that’s when we also begin to question God and his Goodness and Holiness. Mercy opens the door to our humanity and that opens the door to God.