Our readings for the Sunday come from the Prophet Baruch 5:1-9, Psalm 126, the letter to the Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11 and the Gospel of Luke (3:1-5).
We light one candle for Hope and one candle for Faith this week. In the readings we hear how the mountains will be made low and the depths filled to make a path to prepare the way for the Lord speaking about mercy and repentance. This year has been named by Pope Francis as a Year of Mercy and it will officially begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mercy is a complicated thing it comes from the Latin meaning something like “price paid or wages” and is more closely related to merchandise then the benevolence, forgiveness and kindness to which we think of. It exists in the ethical, religious, social, legal realm and it can mean different things in the different realms. In the many of the Christian religions there are the Works of Mercy. They come in two types Corporal (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead) and Spiritual ( instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead).
These Works of Mercy are important as Pope John Paul II said in Dives in Misericordia ” Jesus Christ taught that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but that he is also called “to practice mercy” towards others”. This is something that we need to do in the world today. With all the violence and hostility around the world we need to be able to respond with mercy and not more violence and hostility. All people, Christians and Jews included need to be accepting of Muslims as not all of them are members of radical groups who want the world to be in chaos. If you have some time perhaps read the Papal Bull from Francis announcing the Year of Mercy. Let us all be willing and able to help make the mountain low and fill in the depth and prepare a smooth path for the Lord.