Back during primary season, I noted the irony of the Year of Mercy overlapping with an election year. People aren’t merciful during election years.The Year of Mercy ended this past Sunday, and it certainly feels like mercy has ended. The past few months have been like watching mercy slowly disappear rather than celebrating it. People are upset and angry and quick to label. We assume the worst of those different from us, those outside our specially-crafted bubbles and feeds and circles. We care about being right more than looking for the truth. We care about proving someone wrong more than helping them see the truth. We want the high ground, even when it means stepping on the backs of others.
I see the anger continue to fester. I see the water protectors get sprayed with hoses in freezing temperatures. I see corporations buying up legislation that benefits their pockets at the expense of public health. I see crowded private prisons and broken families and addictions. I see nationalism rising as if no one read their high school history books. What a shitty year for mercy.
But mercy is needed more than ever. Even small acts—a blanket, a bottle of water, a hug—keep the light flickering when the world tries to blow it out. Pope Francis said, “How much I desire that the years to come will be full of mercy, so that every person can experience the goodness and tenderness of God!” It is my responsibility to share corporal and spiritual works of mercy, regardless of year or jubilee or circumstance. And it is when people are angry or scared or depressed that mercy is most needed and makes its greatest impact. If we were already good at being merciful, we wouldn’t have needed a jubilee at all. So maybe it was the right year for mercy after all.