2016 was a busy year for Pope Francis and he has hardly slowed down in the first month of the new year! The past year in the Church was graced with love and mercy, much needed in our world today. World Youth Day events and the canonization of new saints (especially Saint Teresa of Calcutta) poured out countless graces upon the Church and on the millions of souls She ministers to throughout the world.
When God speaks through Peter, the Church’s wisdom is brought to life with timeless relevance. May this timeline of 25 quotes from 2016’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy help you to continue to win souls, grow in holiness, and live out love and mercy in 2017.
2. “This is the heart of God: the heart of a Father who loves and wants his children to live in goodness and in justice, and thus that they might live to the fullest and be happy. The heart of a Father who goes beyond our little concept of justice to open us to the limitless horizons of his mercy.” (2/3/16)
3. “How often — and it pains me to say it — have we been blind and impervious in failing to recognize our own and others’ dignity. Lent is a time for reconsidering our feelings, for letting our eyes be opened to the frequent injustices which stand in direct opposition to the dream and the plan of God.” (2/14/16)
4. “In the family we learn solidarity, how to share, to discern, to walk ahead with each other’s problems, to fight and to make up, to argue and to embrace and to kiss. The family is the first school of the nation, and in the family you will find that richness and value that you have. The family is like the custodian of that great value, in the family you will find hope, for Jesus is there, and in the family you will have dignity. Never, never put the family to one side; the family is the founding stone upon which a great nation is built.” (2/16/16)
5. “In Jesus, God completely committed himself in order to restore hope to the poor, to those who were deprived of dignity, to strangers, to the sick, to captives, and to sinners, whom he welcomed with kindness. In all this, Jesus was the living expression of the Father’s mercy.” (2/20/16)
7. “The family itself introduces fraternity into the world. From this initial experience of fraternity, nourished by affection and education at home, the style of fraternity radiates like a promise upon the whole of society.” (3/19/16, no. 194)
8. “The family is the first school of human values, where we learn the wise use of freedom.” (3/19/16, no. 274)
9. “Merciful God, we pray to you for all the men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life. Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished. May we never forget them, but honor their sacrifice with deeds more than words. We entrust to you all those who have made this journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation, in order to reach a place of safety and hope. Just as you never abandoned your Son as he was brought to a safe place by Mary and Joseph, so now be close to these, your sons and daughters, through our tenderness and protection. In caring for them may we seek a world where none are forced to leave their home and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace. Merciful God and Father of all, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering, and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self-centeredness. Inspire us, as nations, communities and individuals, to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters. May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand, and recognize that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away, where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.” (4/16/16)
10. “If God could weep, then I too can weep, in the knowledge that he understands me. The tears of Jesus serve as an antidote to my indifference before the suffering of my brothers and sisters. His tears teach me to make my own the pain of others, to share in the discouragement and sufferings of those experiencing painful situations.” (5/5/16)
11. “We need to be reminded that food discarded is, in a certain sense stolen, from the table of poor and the starving. This reality invites us to reflect on the problem of unused and wasted food, and to identify ways and means which, by taking this problem seriously, can serve as a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with those most in need.” (cf. Catechesis.) (6/13/16)
12. “The root of peace lies in the capacity to listen.” (7/17/16)
13. “To be attracted by power, by grandeur, by appearances, is tragically human. It is a great temptation that tries to insinuate itself everywhere. But to give oneself to others, eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and living the reality of one’s everyday life: this is exquisitely divine.” (7/28/16, Częstochowa)
15. “Dear friends, I ask that we join in prayer for the sufferings of all the victims of war, of this war today in the world. Once and for all, may we realize that nothing justifies shedding the blood of a brother or sister; that nothing is more precious than the person next to us.” (7/30/16, Prayer Vigil)
16. “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable.” She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavor to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.” (9/4/2016)
17. “Let us therefore commit ourselves not to allow any obstacle to hinder the Father’s merciful action, and let us ask for the gift of a great faith so that we too may become signs and instruments of mercy.” (9/7/16)
18. “What does the Lord thirst for? Certainly for water, that element essential for life. But above all for love, that element no less essential for living. He thirsts to give us the living waters of his love, but also to receive our love.” (9/20/16)
19. “In the following Catecheses, we will reflect on these works which the Church presents to us as the concrete way of living out mercy. Over the course of centuries, many simple people have put this into practice, giving their sincere witness of faith. The Church, after all, faithful to her Lord, nourishes a preferential love for the weakest. Often it is the people closest to us who need our help. We should not go out in search of some unknown business to accomplish. It is better to begin with the simplest, which the Lord tells us is the most urgent. In a world which, unfortunately, has been damaged by the virus of indifference, the works of mercy are the best antidote. In fact, they educate us to be attentive to the most basic needs of “the least of these my brethren” (Mt 25:40), in whom Jesus is present. Jesus is always present there. Where there is need, there is someone who has need, be it material or spiritual. Jesus is there. Recognizing his face in those who are in need is one way to really confront indifference.” (10/12/16, General Audience)
21. “This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace!” (10/16/16)
22. “By our presence in the world, we are called to create a society capable of recognizing the dignity of every person and sharing the gift that each person is to the other. With our witness of a living community open to what the Lord commands, by the breath of his Spirit, we can respond to the needs of each person with the same love with which God has loved us. There are so many people waiting for us to go out and meet them and look at them with the tenderness that we have experienced and received from our relationship with God. That is where our power lies: not in our ideals and in our personal projects, but rather in the strength of his mercy which transforms and gives us life.” (10/20/16)
23. “Clearly, creation itself is a sign of God’s boundless love for us. Consequently, the gifts of nature can themselves lead us to contemplate God. I share your concern about the abuses harming our planet, our common home, and causing grave effects on the climate. As we say in our land, in my land: “In the end, it is the poor who pay for our great festivity.” As you rightly mentioned, their greatest impact is on those who are most vulnerable and needy; they are forced to emigrate in order to escape the effects of climate change. All of us, and we Christians in particular, are responsible for protecting creation.” (10/31/16, Sweden)
24. “I urge you to be salt and light, wherever you find yourselves, through the way you live and act as followers of Jesus, and to show great respect and solidarity with our brothers and sisters of other churches and Christian communities, and with all people of goodwill.” (11/1/16, Angelus)
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