The New York Daily News ran a headline in December 2015 after a mass shooting in California which stated “God Isn’t Fixing This,” in a way, mocking people who were asking for prayers for the victims. What are your thoughts on that headline and God’s role during a public tragedy?

There is no doubt God hears our prayers. We should pray without ceasing whenever there is a public tragedy such as a mass shooting.

We should be praying for the victims and their families, we should be praying for the communities affected by these tragedies and we should be praying for an end to the violence.

The headline used by the New York Daily News is simply an attention grabber. To expect that God is going to put a stop to all mass shootings is a failed understanding of our God.

When God created humanity, we were given a wonderful gift – free will. As human beings we were given the ability to choose for ourselves the path we would follow. We were also given the ability to choose between good and evil.

From the beginning of humanity, this choice was made available to us. Adam and Eve made the choice to eat fruit from the forbidden tree and sin entered into the world.

Each day we are faced with choices of good and evil. As people of faith, it is my hope we are always choosing good.

Unfortunately, our society has moved in a different direction and has moved farther and farther away from God, which has resulted in more and more evil choices being made.

Without a moral compass, without a set of values and a belief system, individuals who are committing these heinous crimes against humanity are not thinking twice about their actions.

I propose the headline should have read, “God is the Answer to This,” because it is only through God that we will regain the moral fiber necessary to have a civilized society.

It is only through God that goodness will be victorious over evil. The more our society moves away from God, the more evil is given the opportunity to enter into society.

God is the answer. We need God, we need values and a belief system to guide us to regularly choose good rather than evil.

This is the “Year of Mercy,” but what is this supposed to mean to me?

There is a tremendous need for mercy in our society and in our individual lives. Pope Francis has declared this year as an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to allow us the opportunity to give and receive mercy. The Year of Mercy began on Dec. 8, 2015 and will continue through Nov. 20, 2016. I propose three ways for you to see how the Year of Mercy can be a part of your life.

First, ask for God’s mercy in your life. In my two parishes of St. Monica and St. Eugene, we have set a goal for this Extraordinary Jubilee Year that every parishioner will participate in the sacrament of reconciliation at least once during the Year of Mercy.

Second, show mercy to others. We are so quick to judge others; whether it is their appearance or their actions, we judge what others say or do.

In this Year of Mercy, give them a break, show a little mercy and stop judging. We also need to be willing to forgive others. Yes, others have harmed you, but stop holding it against them. Be a better person and move on.

We also show mercy to others through kindness and compassion. Practice the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Find time to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, visit the sick and welcome the stranger. Find time to counsel someone in need and pray for the living and the dead.

The third suggestion is probably the hardest of all: show mercy to yourself. I don’t mean give yourself a free pass to sin; what I do mean is that when you have truly repented of your sin and you have confessed it to God, know that you are forgiven.

This becomes very difficult if we committed a very serious offense such as adultery, abortion or pornography. It becomes difficult when we commit sins such as deception, excessive anger, greed or pride. If it is truly in your past, then shower some mercy upon yourself and let it go.

Ultimately, our goal should be to change our hearts and to change our lives. During this Year of Mercy, allow the mercy of God to be present in your life, seek God’s forgiveness, show mercy to others and, if necessary, give the gift of mercy to yourself as well.