By Nancy Brouillard McKenzie
This post is reprinted from a publication of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO) and used with permission of CCAO, an IVC Partner Agency.
On November 20, 2016, Pope Francis concluded a Year of Mercy by symbolically closing the Holy Door to St. Peter’s Basilica. The past year has allowed us to reflect intimately on our faithfulness to Jesus and his endless mercy, reconciliation, and pardon.
When he ended the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis never said our job to limitlessly extend mercy and compassion is complete, or that we can assume the role of bystanders to injustice. Nor did he say that we could return to keeping score of those who have hurt us and create resistance to mercy and forgiveness. Instead, Pope Francis stresses that discipleship requires the endless practicing of mercy and forgiveness to make our faith stronger. That is what the paradoxical kingship of Jesus calls us to do.
We constantly reassess how we accept Jesus’ kingdom and his reign of love. While we strive to dismantle resistance to mercy, unconditional forgiveness, and love, our tasks are not easy. We live for God’s mercy. That mercy gives us the love, courage, and confidence to continue our work despite resistance from earthly kingdoms that set themselves apart from Jesus and his children, especially the vulnerable poor.
God’s mercy enables us to engage in advocacy representing the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation concerns of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. We do this because we want to keep dialogue open on critical issues to the mercy of forgiveness and the love of Jesus.
Awareness of mercy also requires us to continually heighten our witnessing to worldwide issues on migration, environmental justice, economic justice, and peace and conflict transformation. In the coming year, we will continue to address those same issues and resist the temptation to be mere bystanders to injustice.
Pope Francis invites us to move further along in our journey of mercy because “even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open wide for us.” Similarly, he exhorts us to “ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon,” and to move beyond to “open every possible pathway of hope.”
Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus’ memory, unlike ours, “does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced.” Moreover, “God has no memory of sin,” rather God remembers us as “his beloved children,” and “believes that it is always possible to start anew.”
Nancy Brouillard McKenzie, an IVC Volunteer since her retirement from the federal government in 2011, is a volunteer at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO) in Washington, DC. The CCAO is the U.S. national advocacy office for theMissionary Society of St. Columban. The office serves as the line of communication between Columban missionaries serving in 15 countries around the world and policy makers in Washington, D.C. The mission of the organization is to work towards a more just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world by engaging in the political process guided by our faith and the Gospel.