My dear Brothers, Lasallians, students, former students and parents,
Greetings from your Motherhouse.
On December 8th we will celebrate a significant event here in Rome. On that day, Pope Francis will inaugurate the Special Jubilee Year of Mercy and he will open the Holy Door at Saint Peter’s Basilica. By this act, Pope Francis says, that door will become “a door of mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.”
The Special Jubilee Year of Mercy brings us back to the fundamental truths of our faith we learned as children; namely, to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We should take this opportunity to recall the corporal works: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. They go hand in hand with the spiritual works: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.
As Lasallian, Brothers and Partners, we are Ministers of God and Ambassadors of Jesus Christ and, as such, it is our duty to be instruments of mercy. The corporal works of mercy are at the heart of the Christian life. When we engage in our respective
ministries, when we as teachers and students participate in community service and outreach programs, when we advocate for justice for the poor and the oppressed, when we visit the sick and welcome the stranger and the refugee, we manifest God’s loving mercy.
Through our Lasallian charism we are responding to a particular need identified by Pope Francis for this Jubilee Year of Mercy. In all our educational ministries we are dedicated to help “overcome the ignorance in which millions of people live, especially children deprived of the necessary means to free them from the bonds of poverty.” (p. 17).
Just last month, we on the General Council wrote, in the first of our planned annual Lasallian Reflections: “in the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and human history we see over and over again, that God’s people are on the move, fleeing oppressions, war, enslavement, or other calamities and we always see the living God accompanying the poor, the migrant, and the young through education. For over 330 years of this God-is-with-us-story, we have shared Saint John Baptist de La Salle’s love for the young, especially the poor.
The icon we have chosen for our Lasallian year 2015 – 2016 is that of the Good Samaritan, a merciful person par excellence! Just as in the times of the Good Samaritan and the Founder, our contemporary societies suffer from indifference to those abandoned by the side of the road. Our challenge is to offer a radical welcome, the oil of mercy, compassion, inclusion. (p. 7). Pope Francis calls us to “bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters.”
In this Special Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us, together with Pope Francis and the universal Church, commit to concrete responses of mercy. I offer two avenues of action for your consideration from our first Lasallian Reflection:
FOR YOUR REFLECTION
- In our newly revised Rule we say that “school curricula are marked by their concern for the promotion of justice and peace, and the integrity of creation” (Rule 17.1). How can we ensure that our educational centers become a powerful instrument of showing mercy and compassion to our neighbor, and, at the same time, challenge the unjust structures and policies that dehumanize the poor, migrants, and youth?
- In our own Gospel journeys, which character do we identify with in the Parable of the Good Samaritan? What invitations do we hear from the Lord? What conversion is required of us and our Lasallian communities? Saint John Baptist de La Salle wrote that, “God expects you to touch hearts” (Med. 193.3). As you meditate on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, what kind of Gospel adventure do you find yourself called to in order to touch hearts?