An Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy

 

In a solemn Papal Letter, Misericordiae Vultus (“The Face of Mercy”), Pope Francis declared the need for such a Jubilee Year of Mercy:  “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery       of Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.”

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 The reason for proclaiming Jubilee Year of Mercy

We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. … At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church; a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.

The reason for starting the Jubilee Year of Mercy on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

The Holy Year will open on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This liturgical feast day recalls God’s action from the very beginning of the history of mankind. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil. So he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love (cf. Eph 1:4), choosing her to be the Mother of man’s Redeemer. When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. … I have chosen the date of 8 December because of its rich meaning in the recent history of the Church. In fact, I will open the Holy Door on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive. … We recall the poignant words of Saint John XXIII when, opening the Council, he indicated the path to follow: “Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity.”

Mercy as a key word that indicates God’s action toward us.

As we can see in Sacred Scripture, mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible. Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviors that are shown in daily living. The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is, he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.

Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life.

Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.

The season of Lent during this Jubilee Year is to be lived more intensely, with emphasis on the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

The season of Lent during this Jubilee Year should also be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. How many pages of Sacred Scripture are appropriate for meditation during the weeks of Lent to help us rediscover the merciful face of the Father! … The initiative of “24 Hours for the Lord,” to be celebrated on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Fourth Week of Lent, should be implemented in every diocese. So many people, including the youth, are returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; through this experience they are rediscovering a path back to the Lord, living a moment of intense prayer and finding meaning in their lives. Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands. For every penitent, it will be a source of true interior peace.

Mary, Mother of Mercy:

Our thoughts now turn to the Mother of Mercy. May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness. No one has penetrated the profound mystery of the incarnation like Mary. Her entire life was patterned after the presence of mercy made flesh. The Mother of the Crucified and Risen One has entered the sanctuary of divine mercy because she participated intimately in the mystery of his love.

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Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy 

These are lists of good works, seven corporal and seven spiritual, which have become traditional. At the heart of the Old Testament is the God of mercy who expects the Israelites to share mercy with each other and strangers in their midst. Jesus seized the Israelite ideal and gave us a scene of the great judgement in which human beings are judged by their performance of six of our works of mercy.

 

Corporal works of mercy                                             Spiritual works of mercy

Feeding the hungry/                                                           Admonishing the sinner/

giving drink to the thirsty/                                                instructing the ignorant/

clothing the naked/                                                             advising the doubtful/

harboring strangers/                                                           comforting the afflicted/

visiting the sick/                                                                  burying wrongs patiently/

visiting the imprisoned and                                               forgiving injuries and

burying the dead                                                                  praying for the living and dead

 

Let us practice one of the above each week!