A Jubilee of Mercy – Part 2

FB AD MercyToday I continue my reflection on the “Jubilee of Mercy.” As I explained last week, it 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.

I think that the timing of the “Extraordinary Synod on the Family” and the “Jubilee of Mercy” is no coincidence. It is a moment of grace. For me, the connection of these two significant events in the life of the Church reflects the beauty of Pope Francis’ understanding of mercy. Frequently reminding all that: “It is the name of our God. . . . It changes everything.”

Pope Francis invited the Church to reflect on family life and to explore pastoral solutions to the problems that families are experiencing. That is the charge of the Synod participants. In responding to that charge, some are troubled with the suggestions and solutions being proposed. Yet, Francis continues to challenge everyone to trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and keep the work of the Synod in our prayers.

Traditionally the celebration of a Jubilee has been a special year of remission of sin and universal pardon. It has its origins in the Biblical book of Leviticus, chapter 25, verses 8-55. A Jubilee is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly expressed. The same concept, spiritualized, forms the basis of the Christian Jubilee.

It was Pope Boniface VIII who declared the first Christian Jubilee in 1300. In the Bull that established that Jubilee he declared that he grants afresh and renews certain “great remissions and indulgences for sins” which are to obtain by fulfilling certain conditions. In that same document he goes on to say “not only full and copious, but the most full, pardon for all their sins” to those who fulfill the certain conditions. Obviously, anticipating a year of mercy!

Pope Francis announced that during Lent of the “Jubilee of Mercy” he intends to send out Missionaries of Mercy to dioceses worldwide. “They will be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God. . . . They will be missionaries of mercy because they will be facilitators of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again.” The specifics of what these Missionaries of Mercy will offer are yet to be revealed.

In placing these two events so closely together, could it be that Pope France is opening the door to new ways of extending mercy to those seeking to return to the Church or full participation in the life of the Church? After all, in his March 17th homily he asked, “If people are hurt, what does Jesus do? Scold them because they are hurt? No, he comes and carries them on his shoulders. And this is called mercy.”

So, perhaps the Pope Francis is setting the groundwork for all of us to experience this “Jubilee of Mercy” as healing for a world that he sees as deeply wounded by its alienation from God and opening ways for those who feel alienated to come back to God.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing with you my observations on the Bull of Indiction with the hope that they will provide a glimpse of what might happen during the “Jubilee of Mercy.”

Question – What are your hopes and dreams for this “Jubilee of Mercy?”

April 22nd, 2015 |