Rich meaning in symbols behind the eyes of mercy

Bishop McKenna

The logo for the Year of Mercy, full of meaning and significance, is worth looking at closely. It was designed by the Jesuit artist Marko Rupnik, whose mosaic art adorns many major churches in Europe, writes Bishop Michael McKenna.

A native of Slovenia, Fr Rupnik is particularly inspired by the tradition of Eastern religious art. The eyes of Christ, Mary, and the saints in his work rivet the attention of the viewer and invite deep contemplation. One feature of the Year of Mercy logo is the shared gaze of Christ and the wounded soul.

You can see that Christ has lifted the traveller (you or me) onto his shoulders and both are looking in the same direction. In fact, their vision converges, depicted as two eyes becoming one.

This shows a central theme of the Jubilee of Mercy: Receiving God’s mercy means participating in that mercy. It means learning to see the world and other people with God’s eyes. It means becoming “merciful like the Father.” Becoming Christian is not accomplished by ticking off a list of good deeds and avoiding bad ones.

Doing good and avoiding evil is part of the journey, of course, but it is not enough and anyway impossible on our own. Life in Christ is letting him live in us. It is accepting his redeeming love to free our hearts from sin and let us love and forgive others with the heart of Christ.

It also means being able to accept forgiveness from others and being involved in the ongoing work of reconciliation that is at the heart of our life together as the Church. In our families, in our communities, this is Christian faith in action. Even our private sins affect not simply our relationship with God, but our relationship with our fellow members of the Body of Christ.

We have a great gift at hand in this mission: The Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament is not just about mercy from God to me, it is about rebuilding the bonds of love between one another that have been strained and even broken in our sins.

We are familiar with the belief that, in giving absolution, the priest acts in the person of Christ. We need to become more familiar with the belief that he also represents the community of faith with which we need to be reconciled.

Pope Francis has invited us, this Holy Year, to rediscover - or perhaps discover for the first time - the beauty and the power of this sacrament.

By Michael McKenna, Bishop of Bathurst


Be merciful as the father is merciful

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