Bible Study Groups Called to Embody the Message of Mercy

Little Rock Scripture Study Connections Archive | Forward Email Facebook Pinterest
Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
March 2016

Bible Study Groups Called to Embody the Message of Mercy

Bible Study Groups Called to Embody the Message of Mercy

Barbara Fleischer

December 8th marked the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. We might ask ourselves, how is this Year of Mercy touching our lives and influencing our study of Scripture? How is it heightening our awareness of mercy in our everyday relationships with others and in our own group dynamics as we reflect on Scriptures together?

The experience of the love of God, St. Ignatius taught, is the bedrock of growth in the Christian way. If we do not know God’s love for us and experience it personally, we cannot begin to enter into the path of ongoing conversion, nor can we look at our faults through the lenses of truth and compassion. In Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, the first week of reflections lead us to see ourselves as loved sinners, but first we must know God’s love. Then we can seek God’s healing action in our lives, knowing that no matter what flaws we discover in ourselves, we are always held in the merciful heart of God.

On Mt. Sinai, Moses learns the nature of God, “a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity” (Exodus 34:6). Psalm 32 reminds us, “Behold, the eyes of the Lord are on those. . . who hope in his merciful love” (18-19). What does “merciful” add to our understanding of God’s love?

First, mercy implies that we have fallen short of our response to God and to others. We have failed in some way, yet we are mercifully forgiven and welcomed back into a whole and loving relationship. Secondly, mercy implies an unearned gift. We have not earned God’s love; it is showered upon us despite our flaws. Certainly, there are other meanings that may come to mind as you notice expressions of God’s merciful love in all the Scriptures that you are studying. Ponder them!

And what does this emphasis on mercy mean for our Scripture study groups? At some point in a group’s life, we may become frustrated with the pace of our discussions or the way that another member is participating. Perhaps a person is taking too much time or frequently getting off the topic with long stories. Our frustration may turn into resentment and sometimes into a form of gossip—telling others what we dislike without ever speaking with the “offending” person.

What does the gift of God’s merciful love ask of us? In some cases, we may be at a loss at how to intervene in the situation. The first step, then, is to pray for the person and for our own enlightenment in how to respond. If we feel moved to offer feedback, it must be done in a spirit of gentleness and compassion. Feedback to another involves “owning” our own feelings and requests. (For example, use “I” language rather than “you” language: “I appreciate your story but I’m having a difficult time seeing how it connects to this passage. Can you help me see that connection?” rather than an accusatory “You are always getting off the topic and it’s damaging our group discussion.”) With deep listening for the emotions and experiences of others in our group and compassionate and vulnerable responses on our part, we will bring the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy into the heart of our Scripture study!


May 22-26, 2016
National Conference for Catechetical Leaders (NCCL)
Jacksonville, FL


Join us June 17-19, 2016. LRSS’ Annual Bible Institute will be held at St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock. Rev. Garrett Galvin, OFM, will address the topic of “The Message of Mercy: The Biblical Roots of Pope Francis’ Teachings.” This will offer a rich opportunity to celebrate the Year of Mercy. Download the brochure here.

A Biblical Year of Mercy

Download a monthly article and reflection questions for free use in your parishes; link to your parish website; send them to friends. Available in English and in Spanish.

For more information about workshops, Little Rock Connections, or to offer suggestions, or submit items, please contact:

Susan McCarthy, RDC
(501) 366-5691

Little Rock Scripture Study
PO Box 7565
Little Rock, AR 72217

Little Rock Scripture Study

Little Rock Scripture Study, 2950 Saint John's Road, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.858.5434 or 320.363.2213
Buy Online:
© Copyright 2016 Little Rock Scripture Study, Little Rock, Arkansas. All rights reserved.

Are images missing?  View the online version.
To ensure delivery to your inbox, please add to your email address book.
This message was sent to {{{email_address}}}.
If you received this email as a forward, we invite you to subscribe
If you wish to UNSUBSCRIBE from future email promotions, please click here.
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. Replies will not be read or forwarded for handling.