A Jubilee of Mercy – Part 1

On Saturday evening Pope Francis presided over First Vespers of the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy. During that Evening Prayer he presented to the world the document that formally announced the celebration of an “Extraordinary Holy Year.” This “Jubilee of Mercy” will begin with the opening of the Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, and will conclude on the November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

The initial announcement of this “Jubilee of Mercy” was made by Pope Francis on March 13, 2015, the second anniversary of his election as Bishop of Rome.

While there was surprise at Pope Francis’ announcement of this year long “Jubilee of Mercy,” his challenge to reflect on the mercy of God should come as no surprise.

Mercy is a theme very dear to Pope Francis. The episcopal motto he chose and kept as his pontifical motto is “miserando atque eligendo” (as translated by Pope Francis – “With eyes of mercy”). This citation is taken from the homily of Saint Bede the Venerable during which he commented on the Gospel passage of the calling of Saint Matthew (found in Matthew, chapter 9 verses 9-13): “Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘follow me.’”  When commenting on his motto, Pope Francis says that we, as followers of Jesus, must see and feel with eyes of mercy.

During his first Angelus address on March 17, 2013, Francis told the world “Feeling mercy, this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel – it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient.” This gave us a glimpse of what would be at the foundation of his teaching, as well as his style of living.

Frequently over the last two years we have heard Pope Francis speak about the mercy and love of God. Two instances immediately come to my mind. When speaking about the necessity of frequently going to confession, he reminds all of us that; “God never tires of forgiving us. Yet, sometimes we tire of coming to him for forgiveness, love and mercy.” He reminded priests, bishops and cardinals that “The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity . . . it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart.”  There’s some food for prayerful reflection!

Right now I’m reading and prayerfully reflecting on the document Misericordiae Vultus, “The Face of Mercy.” Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing with you some of my observations on that Bull of Indiction with the hope that they will provide a glimpse of what might happen during the “Jubilee of Mercy.”

Question – Try to recall at least one instance when Pope Francis spoke of mercy that has challenged your life as a Catholic Christian?


April 15th, 2015 |