Friday, December 4, 2015

Year of Mercy

Tuesday, December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception begins the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy as called for by Pope Francis. Jubilees date back to Old Testament times. But in our era they occur every 25 years. The last one was in the year 2000 celebrating the millennium. The Year of Mercy is called Extraordinary because it falls outside the 25 year cycle. Jubilees are times of renewal, graces and forgiveness.

Pope Francis tells us that Jesus is the personification, the face, of the Father’s mercy. The Year of Mercy has several aspects. First, it reminds us of God the Father’s great mercy toward us. We can easily understand this by seeing the mercy, forgiveness, love and concern a parent has for their child. Mercy is readily and freely given. In acknowledging this mercy we should find joy, serenity and peace. In realizing God’s mercy toward us we become witnesses of our faith and express it with greater enthusiasm and conviction. We become living signs of the Father’s love for us.

Our response reveals the second aspect. In following Jesus, in living the Gospel life, the essence of being a Christian is having mercy toward others. Our mercy toward others is seen in our forgiveness. We are told to forgive seventy times seven times. Our mercy is also seen in our charity and in the corporal works of mercy. We sense the need to be patient, kind and compassionate to others including those who are separated from us. We become Good Samaritans.

A Jubilee year also is a time of forgiveness. Every Jubilee is a time of special reconciliation, but the Year of Mercy encourages us and the church to make special efforts of reconciliation with the Father through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with ourselves – sometimes the hardest one to forgive, and with our family and neighbor.

One prominent feature of the Year of Mercy is the opening of the Holy Door, so rich in itself with symbolism. This will be done not only at the Vatican but also in every diocese. Holy Name Cathedral as well will have a holy door opened.

The Jubilee calls for pilgrimage. Many will go to Rome, many to their diocesan cathedrals.
I hope you will take time and meditate on and embrace this opportunity for yourself and others to take advantage of this Year of Mercy.

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