Mark Shriver, an advocate for poor kids and families, wrote a great reflection in the NY Times on this last Year of Mercy.
“At the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I felt that Pope Francis was on “my side” — that he saw the church, as I did, as a social justice entity. I had considered mercy from an intellectual perspective and believed the pope was essentially calling me to be nicer to people. But as the Year of Mercy progressed, I realized that what Pope Francis meant by mercy had almost nothing to do with what I thought it meant.
Francis’ call for mercy is much deeper. When he says that “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort” and goes on to ask us to “leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others,”
He is telling us to get out of our comfort zones. He is saying to me, a supposedly progressive Catholic who works on behalf of poor kids and families: Don’t be isolated and content, enter the chaos and the pain and the joy of others’ lives.
Then you will be truly merciful, and truly alive.”
This is exactly what we are about to celebrate – what Christmas is. That God, perfect and needing nothing, so loved us that he became human to live among us – as one of us – in all our human frailty. So that he could be in relationship with each of our broken, messy, and joyful lives and to open boundless healing for each.
Is there some ‘comfortable’ area of my life that it’s time I invited God into? Is there a lack of real relationship with those in my life or those I interact with – family, a coworker, or even the poor? Now is the time for us to open ourselves and have an advent arrival into the stony parts of our own hearts.