You have been a hard year for many people. A year of sorrow and pain. You are ending, however, with the promise of mercy. The Jubilee Year of Mercy is about so much more than we realize.
The Infinite Mystery, who gives us our being and draws our hope, wants us to know that He is with us. He is with us.
Mercy is more than just "helping those in need." It is a solidarity of the heart. Ultimately we are truly merciful when we turn to one another and say, "Your suffering is my suffering... your need is my need." That is why the "works of mercy" are not only benevolent acts we do for others. They are also a school in which we learn the depths of our own poverty, our hunger, and how these depths are transformed into the great spaces for giving and receiving love.
In this way, we can begin to understand that God is Mercy.
We will also begin to see the only possible foundation for peace in our families, our communities, our nations, and among the peoples of the world. It is not "tolerance." It is not mere "coexistence." It is solidarity.
Yes, it means that we will have to suffer. But we are all suffering anyway. We can suffer alone, or we can suffer together. We can remain isolated, holding onto our pain like a grudge, refusing to let go of the rage, the bitterness, the cynicism that we use to cover over our own humiliation. Or we can open ourselves, in a real way, to the mystery of mercy, to the discovery of our own aching need and the needs of others.
Only if we open up our own vulnerability will we find the One who has taken our weakness upon Himself, who is bringing forth from our nothingness a new existence, a new healing, a new capacity to love and to be loved.
And this openness takes place in relation to the persons who have been given to us, our "neighbors," our brothers and sisters.
This takes time. Suffering together in solidarity, coming together in our hearts, is a hard work that we must learn. It is awkward, clumsy, full of mistakes and apparent failures, messy, blundering... but we move forward. We never give up.
We find strength, courage, light, and hope, because He is with us.