By Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ
Care of Earth and care of humanity cannot be separated. Pope Francis recently said, “There is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself.”
December 8th begins the Roman Catholic Year of Mercy that extends to November 20, 2016. Calling us to a spiritual conversion, Pope Francis writes: “We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’ (cf. Lk 6:36)” Addressing Catholics, he writes: “I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.”
It seems relevant that Human Rights Day will be celebrated two days after this special year begins. The Year of Mercy reminds Catholics — and others — to show mercy by helping refugees achieve their human rights. Welcoming refugees is a direct response to the Gospel mandate to welcome the homeless and treat everyone as we would treat Christ. It is an important way to show mercy. We also practice mercy by taking action to mitigate the reasons — like climate change and war — that cause people to flee their homes.
Listening to those who would withhold compassion for certain groups makes one wonder if the innkeepers who refused Joseph and his pregnant wife 2000 years ago truly had no room, or if they didn’t choose to accept people from Galilee. How sad if we could be similarly blinded!
Read more from Sister Terri MacKenzie on her website, Ecospirituality Resources.