Year of Mercy

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What God is like

‘When we ponder on the nature of God in His generous love and eternal care for the human race, we are filled with joy at the gestures of mercy he will have ready for us’

Cross in the back of Our Lady of the Snows church at Berens River, Manitoba, in the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface. Photo by Father Philip Kennedy


A baptism at Our Lady of the Snows church in Berens River, Manitoba.


Father Kennedy visiting an elder.


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Fr. Kennedy gives Communion to an elder.


By Father Philip Kennedy, President, Catholic Missions In Canada

In the Old Testament, in the time of Moses, God’s own Word is spoken to the people. They are told that now the name of God is “The Lord,” and that is how they should refer to God, but also they hear that the Lord is a God “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love.” In all the many dealings that God has had with his people, in spite of their idolatry and indifference and indolence, God has always been merciful and gracious to his people. (See Exodus 34:6-7)

This is the comfort that blesses us all as we reflect on, and live through, this Year of Mercy. This is a Jubilee, a rare time that is marked out for us to remember what God is like. When we ponder on the nature of God in His generous love and eternal care for the human race, we are filled with joy at the gestures of mercy He will have ready for us, in this life and in the world to come.

Saint Paul said to the Romans that all people are loved by God, and “since you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy… so [others] who are being disobedient, by the mercy shown to you, they may now receive mercy.” (Rom 11:30-31)  Mercy is therefore ours to share with others, especially during the Jubilee period, because God’s mercy adheres to us and will be seen by our brothers and sisters of our communities and parishes.  There are many people waiting to receive mercy through the gifts, large or small, material or spiritual that we have to extend to them.

Berens River Map1

Recently, I was at the Manitoba mission of Berens River in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface. An obvious symbol of God’s mercy for everyone to see and be moved by, is the great cross standing triumphantly between the waters of Lake Winnipeg and the mission’s land on the Berens River Reserve territory.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, allowed Himself to be sacrificed for our sake, in a humiliating act of suffering. The steel cross of Berens River will be, like other such signs, a lesson in the mercy of God, and the love we must show to others, especially those less fortunate.