Pope Francis described the Jubilee Year of Mercy back in April 2015 in his official document, Misericordiae Vultus. The final paragraph of that document knocks my socks off. Here's my favorite part:
Let us allow God to surprise us!
Amen! I'm excited to journey intentionally through this Year of Mercy. On this December 8th morning, though, as we begin the jubilee, I am thinking less about what I plan on doing and more on what God can do. Truly, I am overwhelmed at what the Lord wants to offer us.
Imagine what God can do with this inexhaustible supply of mercy. Just imagine!
- Family members who have been alienated may find a way back to one another.
- Married couples who feel no love for their spouses may be moved to tenderness.
- Parents or caregivers who are perpetually sleep deprived may taste the sweetness of deep, refreshing rest.
- Individuals may recognize habitual weaknesses and work to become stronger.
- Beloved friends and relatives who have stopped practicing their faith may rediscover God's awesome, powerful love.
- People who suffer with addiction may forgive themselves and seek the support they need.
- Victims of violence or abuse may forgive their attackers--even those who are not sorry or are unable to ask for forgiveness--forever releasing themselves from their attackers' hold.
- Religious factions, long at odds with one another, may reconcile.
- People driven to commit acts of terrorism may hear God's universal call to love.
. . . for nothing will be impossible for God! (Luke 1:37)
It is really true that God can do anything good. God wants to heal us. God offers forgiveness, reconciliation, and unshakable bonds of love. In many cases, we are the ones who have stopped daring to believe such bonds can exist. But behold, the Lord makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).
I invite us all to take a few minutes right now to imagine God's mercy. Yes, seriously, right now. Take a few deep breaths, and call to mind that God himself has made breathing possible. God's own Holy Spirit fills us and draws us closer to the Lord. Dare to dream for a moment:
- If you could ask God for any kind of healing, for yourself or for others, what would you ask for?
- Does this healing seem far-fetched, unlikely, or even impossible? If so, pray “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
- Boldly and deliberately, ask the Lord right now for the miracle of mercy you long for.
This morning, I wrote my intentions on a slip of paper. I plan to keep this with me, day and night, from now until the Year of Mercy closes on November 20th, 2016. I'm sure the paper will grow ratty. I'll probably have to replace it more than once, especially if (when) it finds its way into the washing machine. No matter. Rewriting my prayer will remind me that Jesus has written it indelibly on his own Heart. And like Jesus' handwriting . . .