The Year of Mercy
Imagine that Pope Francis opened up the Vatican museum and began distributing the priceless artifacts and treasures of the Church to anyone who came to the door of St. Peter’s Basilica. How quickly do you suppose the line would form in Rome? On December 8th, Pope Francis used the keys entrusted to him as the successor of Peter to open the floodgates of Heaven and let the true treasure of the Church, Divine Mercy, overflow.
Since the time of Moses, the Lord asked that a special year of Jubilee be observed every 50 years, when all slaves were released, debts were erased, and inheritances restored. The Church has continued this tradition through the Holy Years, the last of which was held in the year 2000. But this year, Pope Francis has called an extraordinary Jubiliee. The Holy Doors at St. Peter Basicila were opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, and will remain open until the Feast of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. Anyone who passes through these Doors, or other Holy Doors designated in special Churches and Cathedrals in every diocese throughout the world, will receive an extraordinary grace, a special encounter with God’s Mercy.
Mercy is the “the supreme act by which God comes to meet us… the bridge that connects God and man” (Misericordiae Vultus, #2). When we receive mercy, we receive so much more than pardon for our sins. Although Mercy is always available to anyone who asks, the Church is the “trustee and dispenser of God’s mercy” (MV, #11). This Year is the opportune time for those who have been away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation to return, or to approach it more regularly. It is a time to invite others to come with us to the fountain of God’s mercy.
In this Year of Mercy, we are called not only to receive mercy, but to learn how to “be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36), to release from our hearts the resentments and grudges we carry, to take the initiative to heal estrangements among family members or friends. Pope Francis has declared that every single time that we perform one of the the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy this year, we will receive the Indulgence of the Year of Mercy, which we can apply to ourselves or to a soul in need. In this Year of Mercy, let us be full of gratitude for the unmerited, superabundance of God’s love for us, which is revealed to us in the mystery of Divine Mercy.