Celebrating Love

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This week we are asked to take notice of two events that seem contradictory—the beginning of the penitential period of Lent, and St. Valentine’s Day, the festive celebration of romantic love usually marked by flowers, chocolates and dinner at expensive restaurants.

But are they contradictions? Or simply different manifestations of love?

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No Fear

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The first miracle Peter witnessed at the hands of Jesus drove the fisherman to his knees—a catch of fish so heavy that Peter’s boat was in danger of sinking. Peter realized that if Jesus could do this, he also was able to look into Peter’s soul and observe the sins hidden there.

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In the Garden with God

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During this Jubilee Year of Mercy the Church offers us a general pardon, an indulgence that is open to all, and the possibility to renew our relationship with God and neighbor. It’s an opportunity to deepen our faith and to live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness.

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"His Mercy Endures Forever"

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In announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis drew our attention to Psalm 136, where the phrase “His mercy endures forever” is repeated no fewer than 26 times. In fact, this refrain appears in the Bible 41 times.

Why is this thought so ubiquitous in both Old and New Testaments?

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An Invitation to Mercy

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What greater example of God’s mercy toward sinners than the invitation to the tax collector, Matthew, to become a follower of Jesus?

Saint Bede the Venerable, an English monk of the seventh and eighth centuries, said, “Jesus saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him.”

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What Is Mercy?

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The Hebrew word “hesed” is often translated as “mercy.” But “mercy” as commonly understood today does not do justice to the richness and depth of meaning of “hesed.”

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The Jesus Prayer

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Early Christians came to understand that the name of Jesus had great power, and that the recitation of His name was itself a form of prayer.

Heeding St. Paul’s guidance to pray without ceasing, their ancient, short prayer became known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” 

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What the Birth of Christ Means

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The Old Testament book of Exodus warns us that no one can see God and live.

But during these days of celebration of the Nativity, we are mindful that in his mercy, God has, in fact, showed us his face. 

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What Does “Jubilee” Mean?

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Jubilee years have a deep history in the Hebrew scriptures. According to Leviticus, slaves and prisoners were freed, debts forgiven, land and possessions returned to their rightful owners. Perhaps most important, during such a year the mercy of God would be manifested.

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Why Did the Pope Choose Dec 8?

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The Jubilee Year of Mercy opened on December 8, the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of Second Vatican Council. On this date we also marked the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This liturgical feast day recalls God’s actions of mercy from the very beginning of humankind. This is why Pope St John XXIII opened the Council with the words: “Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy …”

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