Jesus invoked the prophetic tradition in his preaching: “it is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.” Pope Francis continues to stress that tradition in proclaiming this a Year of Mercy. To understand what that means in the concrete I thought of my mother. I am the oldest of six and I complained once that she was treating my brother much more gently than she ever treated me. My mother explained that each child was different, one needing more discipline, one needing more encouragement, one needing a kick in the pants (=me!). We embody God’s mercy in the Church when we don’t try to cram everyone into some predetermined set of rule. The unique story that has shaped each individual’s life requires that mercy be liberally applied.