Walk through the Doors of Mercy
Two years ago Pope Francis announced that 2016 was to be a Jubilee Year, a Holy Year of Mercy. Holy Years in the Catholic Church date back to the beginning of the fourteenth century. They were originally called every twenty-five to fifty years, at the pope’s discretion, and were a time of pilgrimage to holy sites and a time when sins were forgiven. Our Holy Year of Mercy began at the end of last year on 8 December, when the Pope opened the Jubilee doors of St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, and will end on 20 November this year, the Feast of Christ the King, which marks the end of our Liturgical Year.
It is intended that this Holy Year be a time for all of us to grow spiritually, and to do works of mercy. Works of mercy are part of traditional Catholic teaching. What these works of mercy are really all about is our presence in the world, and our presence to each other. They are about how we ourselves might grow and shape our relationships with others, those both near and far, and how we respond to the cries of our world. There are spiritual works of mercy, and these are: to instruct, to advise, to console, to comfort, to forgive, to bear wrongs patiently and to pray for the living and the dead. And there are bodily works of mercy: to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, to bury the dead, to give alms to the poor. They are all, both the spiritual works and the bodily works, marks of a life lived in faithfulness to Jesus, in openness to the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts. This year we are invited to ponder these things, and to grow more and more fully into them.
The theme of this Holy Year is, ‘Merciful like the Father’, and Pope Francis is saying some wonderfully inviting, life-giving and yet challenging things about where we might journey in this Holy Year. Just last month he sent a special message to the youth of the world, and this is what he said: “This Holy Year is a time when we can discover that life together as brothers and sisters is like a great party, perhaps the most beautiful party we can imagine, the endless party that Jesus has taught us to celebrate by his Spirit. No one is excluded from this party”. And then he went on to explain the theme, ‘Merciful like the Father’: “Being merciful means to grow in a love that is courageous, generous and real. As youth, you are preparing to be Christians capable of making courageous choices and decisions, in order to build daily, even through little things, a world of peace. Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide – pay attention, because while going against the current is good for the heart, we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! With Jesus we can do great things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals. Be brave and go against the tide; be friends of Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace. Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion”.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Dean of Mission