The Dean of St Thomas’ Deanery, Fr Colin Stewart, has said how delighted he was to be part of a small but happy group that braved a very stormy evening to mark the beginning of the holy year in Moray.
A sermon was delivered by Fr Isaac Yaw Nsiah at the opening of the Year of Mercy, held on December 9 2015 at St Mary’s, Fochabers.
The Homily stated that the Holy Father in his Bull of Indiction, MISERICODIAE VULTUS, has declared December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016 as the Year of Mercy.
What followed in the homily was a guide to what this holy year of mercy means for us.
Mercy means having compassion or forgiveness towards an offender for wrong done. That is, granting pardon instead of punishment. Pardon is granted when an offence or sin has taken place and in order to patch up forgiveness or mercy is granted.
Conditions of Mercy
As a condition for pardon, the offender usually shows repentance or remorse for the wrong done or the sin committed. In this case, the offender pleads for leniency and justice to be tendered with mercy. Mercy is granted when sin has been repented of.
Effects of Sin
Anytime we sin we withdraw from God and get separated from Him. With the withdrawal and separation from God we lose his love and glory for us. For example, when Adam and Eve sinned they had to hide from the presence of God for they found themselves disgraced and so lost the glory of God. Thus, origin sin humanity is battling with (Gn 18:16).
God’s Initiative for Mercy
For God’s mercy towards humanity He takes the initiative to grand us pardon and mercy to reconcile us to Himself. The prophet Ezekiel says “God does not take delight in the death of the sinner but for the sinner repent and be saved” (Eze.33:11).
Peter, in his second letter also emphasizes God’s mercy for us as stated by Ezekiel. God shows His mercy towards us by inviting us to repentance so that He averts His anger to punish us for our sins. For instance, to show mercy and salvation to the people of Nineveh, God at his own initiative sent Jonah to preach repentance to them.
When the people of Nineveh repented God averted His anger and they experienced the compassion and mercy of God.
As a merciful of God, He calls us to repentance and reconciliation with Himself. This reconciliation with God is unconditional. God is ever ready to receive us back when we repent and come back to Him without any conditions.
The story of the prodigal son is a clear manifestation of God’s unconditional mercy towards us. That is why, while we were still sinners God unconditionally sent His only son to come down to earth to die to save us from our sins and be reconciled to Him once again.
Call of Repenentance
God, by His mercy towards us, invites us to repentance and be reconciled to Him in order to be saved. Matthew and Zacheaus, tax collectors, responded positively to the invitation of Jesus to repentance and they were pardoned and shown mercy. Similarly the repentant criminal crucified alongside with Jesus was shown mercy by Jesus and offered a place in Paradise.
Benefits of God’s Mercy towards us
In response to the church’s call to the mercy of God we stand to benefit in the following ways:
We shall experience forgiveness and compassion from God
Reconciliation with God
Assured of hope of salvation
Joy and happiness in our lives
Inner peace with ourselves
The love of God.
Let us therefore share the mercy we have received from God by forgiving all those who in one way or the other have offended us and to live in peace with each other so that this mercy of God would abound all the more.