By Helena Rodriguez
One of the most memorable Christmas cards I received, I think it was from Sister Margaret McTaggart, depicted Baby Jesus lying in a manger with the words, “A God who could become so small can only mean mercy and love.”
Some of my students in my high school English classes have been reading Jonathan Edwards’ widely published “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon, which was written in 1741 in Massachusetts and is filled with vivid imagery of hell.
Needless to say, it has not been a class favorite and it doesn’t make for feel-good Christmas time reading around the fireplace.
I believe hell is real, just like I believe heaven is for real. But most importantly, I believe in that small wonder child born in a cave in the “House of Bread,” in Bethlehem, as it means, and I believe in his unending fount of mercy that never runs dry.
This coming Tuesday will mark the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy, or, “The Year of Mercy,” as it has been proclaimed by Pope Francis. What does that mean to you and me? Well for one, I feel the timing couldn’t be better.
Many people, including myself, are still saddened, and shaken up following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris and threats that have reportedly been issued to the United States. But even before the Paris attacks, the summer and early fall were riddled by same-sex marriage controversies, mass shootings, Planned Parenthood selling baby parts scandals and presidential debates over hot button issues.
In shorts, it seems to have been an all-hell-breaks-loose free-for-all in our “One Nation Under God.”
Some people may say these are all “signs of the times” as predicted in the Bible. Again? I’m not a doomsday advocate, but I do believe a little mercy does a lot of bodies good.
Tuesday, which is the beginning of this Jubilee, also happens to be a Marion feast day. It is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, believed to be the mother of The Son of God. How fitting to begin a year of mercy by the king on the queen mother’s feast day.
I believe the Year of Mercy, which kicks off during the appropriate season of Advent, is noteworthy, news worthy and much needed in a world thirsty for something meaningful.
According to Pope Francis, the Year of Mercy will exclude no one and it will be a time for an “encounter with the mercy of God” with a special focus on opening doors, as in “opening the doors of God’s mercy.”
What better time to talk about, think about, discuss and be open to mercy than during Christmas? We can’t take the “Christ” out of Christmas and we can’t receive him without receiving his mercy.
Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at: Helena-Rodriguez@hotmail.com