In this Year of Mercy we see more clearly than ever that mercy isn’t passive but active. It’s not a matter of waiting for those who need mercy to come to us. We have to go out in search of them, wherever and whoever they may be.
In the Gospel we’ve just heard, the shepherd doesn’t sit down with the ninety-nine and wait for the lost sheep to wander back to the fold. He’d be waiting for ever. He has to go in search of the lost sheep who’s in mortal danger and bring it back to the fold. If he does that, then there’s safety for the lost sheep and joy for the shepherd.
So too the woman who’s lost the coin doesn’t just sit down moping and wait for the lost coin to pop into her lap. She searches high and low for the lost coin, and her hard work is rewarded with the joy she shares with her neighbours. Mercy then is active; it goes in search of the lost; and it has as its fruit joy.
A merciless world will always be a joyless world – a world of passivity that drowns in depression. A merciful world is a joyful world – full of the energy that never ceases to reach out and search. That’s the world of the Gospel. That’s the world of God. It’s the space of the Church – the space that the Church seeks to expand more and more. That’s the Church’s true mission.
Mercy, then, is a verb rather than a noun. It’s an action-word; it’s something we do. That’s what drives the Annual Catholic Campaign that we focus upon today throughout the Archdiocese. The Campaign isn’t about just thoughts and feelings: it’s about action. It’s about the works of mercy without which our faith is either dead or dying.
The Annual Catholic Campaign was established to do away with the many Sunday appeals that filled the year in other times. We decided to gather the Archdiocesan ministries into one big appeal – but also to help people learn more of what the Church is actually doing and to seek their support for the Church’s works of mercy, for her mission.
The Campaign focuses on four of these works:
- The MacKillop Brisbane Catholic School Fund which helps Catholic children from families in difficulty to have a Catholic education. It seeks to do now what St Mary MacKillop did years ago.
- Holy Spirit Seminary which trains the priests of the future to be missionaries of mercy, going out in search of the lost wherever and whoever they may be.
- The Priests Foundation which supports the pastors of the Church who have laid down the burden of responsibility but who are still a vital part of the Church’s life.
- Centacare’s Pastoral Ministries which reach out in mercy through services like psychiatric counselling, family support, hospital chaplaincy and prison ministry.
So today, I ask you to support the Annual Catholic Campaign – perhaps by making a regular monthly gift of an amount which means something to you, something more than loose change. Every dollar given will be carefully spent, I can promise you – and spent for the purposes I’ve mentioned. The money isn’t given to the Archdiocese; it’s given to those we serve. It’s not our money; it’s their money. That’s why we’re very careful about how it’s spent.
Pope Francis has shown us all what it means to do mercy. It’s not rocket science. In the end, it’s very simple – as simple as showers in the Vatican for the homeless or a barber to cut their hair or a laundry service to wash their clothes, as we have here in Brisbane.
It’s also as simple – and as important – as the gift you give to the Annual Catholic Campaign. Simple it may be but a difference it does make – in the lives of real people in real need. So I encourage all of you this morning to give generously to the Campaign, so that the Church in this part of the world can continue to go in search of the lost, expanding the space where mercy and joy can find a home and flourish.