Reflections on the Year of Mercy - Part Two

Casting Open the Doors of the Heart: Lessons Learned in a Jubilee Year of Mercy

A five-part reflection at the end of the Jubilee Year, read Part One here
Written by Mary McCann Sanchez

Be at peace if you travel.

Undeniably, medical needs abound in my community at home. Adequate access to health care continues to be a privilege in the United States. Medications are out of reach for all too many individuals. Insurance plans continue to limit, squeeze and exclude some, even while they benefit others. 

It is not necessary to cross borders to serve. There is no spiritual or corporal work of mercy that cannot find its place close to home. Yet, my experience of mission has taught me that voluntary displacement from the comforts -- and problems -- of home can serve to generate insight and appreciation. The striking diversity and beauty of Bolivia and the evocative sounds of its panpipes fill me with the beauty of God’s creation and invite me to co-create joy. At the same time, the extensive nature of poverty in the Southern Hemisphere, rich in natural resources, provokes questions that guide my spiritual quest at home and --- when I am at my best --- lead me to seek justice. 

Pope Francis tells us that a primary task, especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction, is to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplating the face of Christ. I see the suffering Christ in the doorways of hospitals in Bolivia as an imperative just as compelling as the growingly familiar presence of Christ under highway bridges in Chicago. Solidarity teaches me that I cannot ignore either.

And the journey is part of a tradition. The practice of pilgrimage, Francis tells us, has a special place in the Holy Year...Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination. 

Casting Open the Doors of the Heart: Lessons Learned in a Jubilee Year of Mercy is a five-part blog series written by Mary McCann Sanchez, Senior Director of Programs. Mary joined the Solidarity Bridge staff in September 2015, and has been on six trips to Bolivia during her first year.  

Read Part One here. 

All citations of the words of Pope Francis are from the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy