A reflection on question 13 by Mayuli Bales, diocesan director of Multicultural Ministries.
Q. What can we do to show mercy to the newcomers in our diocese? Specifically members of the Latino/a and Somali communities?
Reflecting on Bishop Kettler’s pastoral letter, my answer to the way we would show mercy to newcomers in our diocese is simple and deep at the same time. First, we need to decide what we want to do to relate to our brothers and sisters from other backgrounds. We need to find out: Who are the newcomers? Who are the Somalis or Latinos in our area? We need to get out of our comfort zones and relate to the new ones. You could invite a group of Latinos, Somalis or East Africans to dinner at your house and listen to their stories. Then, identify two dreams you have in common with them.
It sounds simple, but being open to relating to newcomers in my workplace, school, street or faith community is not always easy. I get caught up in schedules, appointments, routines and procrastination. Fear and ignorance do not let me build courage. Do I say “ouch” when something is not right? If not, my silence makes me complicit.
Reflecting on Bishop Kettler’s pastoral letter, I understand that what we do to others does make a difference in the world. We need to offer mercy to each other and be willing to receive it from each other. We all need mercy, because we all stumble and fall and require help getting back on track. I forget to have mercy on myself sometimes when I make a mistake or continue with habits that are annoying to others, like not being present in the moment. Being kind to everyone you meet is a call I read in the section of Bishop Kettler’s letter titled “Mercy, unconditional love and justice.” The words that came to my mind when I read it are “resolution,” “forgiveness,” “encouragement” and “accountability.” We must put our faith in action in the Year of Mercy.