Dear friends,

Did you ever think of yourself as on a Mission of Mercy?  

This past Tuesday December 8, Pope Francis opened the Jubilee Year with the call to put mercy before judgment. 

He called upon everyone to embrace this ‘mission of mercy.’ Francis invited us all to “rediscover the deepness of God’s mercy—a God who welcomes all and goes out to meet everyone personally.” Francis stated that the Gospel is synthesized in the word ‘mercy:’ “It is the fundamental trait of the face of Christ: that face that we recognize in the diverse aspects of his existence: when he goes out to meet all, when he heals the sick, when he sits at table with sinners, and most of all when, nailed to the cross, he pardons; there we see the face of divine mercy.” And so, it was emphasized at the end of the Eucharist opening the Jubilee Year of Mercy that “while the Jubilee year is oriented towards evincing God’s immeasurable mercy towards us, it is also meant as a forceful push to show Catholics around the world to be merciful to one another—and to everyone else.” Be merciful as God is merciful to you!

Francis had just visited three countries in Africa where he invited all “to heal ethnic and religious divisions through tolerance for differences and focus on the common good.” We are just experiencing in our own country presidential candidates inflaming the fears of others and claiming we should bar all Muslims from the country. So this message of mercy seems particularly apt for us at this time. Right in your own little corner of the world, how can you and I show mercy? Perhaps cutting some slack to ones right around us: rather than quickly moving to the judgment that he or she was trying to hurt me, giving them the benefit of the doubt or checking it out. I am reminded of Thich Nhat Hahn’s, “are you sure?” when we are tempted to rush to anger or judgment. You can probably think of many more instances: while driving or shopping or waiting for a seat in a restaurant or at work or with children, how can we show mercy rather than judgment. (Naturally, Francis is challenging the Church, too, with the divorced or lesbians and gays or with others seen outside the law, how can we show mercy not judgment?)

In Africa recently, it was inspiring to see that Francis extended this mission of mercy to the environment: “We have a responsibility to pass on the beauty of nature in its integrity to future generations and an obligation to exercise a just stewardship of the gifts we have received.” This was the theme of our Advent retreat yesterday. (more about that to follow)

These themes remind me of Mary Oliver’s poem Messenger:

Messenger      Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be


The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

that we live forever.

At The Spirit of Life, we are seeking to truly become the transforming to the Spirit, and creators of “justice & joy” in our own lives, in our families and the world in which we live. Our belief in the sacredness of all created beings and loving relationships compels us to respond with care and compassion to all who are marginalized in our church and world. We invite you to come and to pray with us as we “do our own work” in growing into a deeper awareness of our own gifts and ‘growing edges’ and together create a community that invites diversity and honors the uniqueness of each individual and every journey. We are confident that you will feel welcome in the “home” of The Spirit of Life.

Loving blessings and praying for you a glorious Advent.

Ron & Jean