RAY COLLINS: Year of Mercy - A Local Perspective

The Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, is very much reflected in the readings from last Sunday, particularly the Gospel Reading.

From Luke’s Gospel it tells of Jesus’ visit to the home of Simon a Pharisee, who doesn’t welcome Jesus in the traditional way of providing water to wash before entering his house.

Instead it is a woman, “who had a bad name in the town” who sought out Jesus and in her grief washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, and finally anointed them with ointment from an alabaster jar.

This drew condemnation from Simon and Jesus used the example of two debtors who owed differing amounts to their creditor, asking who would be more grateful if the creditor forgave their debts. “The one who was pardoned more, I suppose” was Simon’s reply.

Jesus emphasises that mercy is extended to those who are on the margins of society, not just to the righteous. St Paul in his letter to the Galations emphasises this by stating that it is Faith in Jesus rather than rigid application of the Law that is the way of love and mercy.

At a recent Bishop’s Staff Day, staff employed in the Diocesan Chancery, Catholic Care and the Catholic Schools Office came together to reflect on the Year of Mercy and to draw inspiration from the various ways in which the Church in our diocese is living out Pope Francis’s call for mercy and compassion to be shared around the world.

The commitment of the diocese to provide low cost housing to those in need was highlighted, as the diocese plans to build high rise units to meet the needs of those who would not be able to afford the  rental fees required to live in the city area. The ongoing work of Catholic Care in its outreach to families in crisis, and young people on the margins of society along with many other projects across the diocese, is inspirational.

Staff in Catholic Schools and the CSO make regular donations to assist education programs in India, Cambodia and Vietnam through the Teachers Helping Teachers program, ensuring that young people in the most disadvantaged areas of these countries have the opportunity to gain an education that will enable them to break the cycle of poverty.

There is much that the Catholic Church does through agencies such as Catholic Mission, Caritas and the St Vincent de Paul Society as well as many other faith based organisations to assist those in most need throughout the world.

In this way we endeavour to follow the teachings of Jesus, to show great love and mercy to those in the greatest need.

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Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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