The Jubilee Year of Mercy

Clergy Corner by Fr. Robert Falabella for November 12, 2015

On December 8 of this year, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, there will begin a special time of grace, designated by Pope Francis as “THE JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY,” and it will conclude in the following year on the feast of Christ the King, November 20, 2016.

In the “Roman Catholic tradition, a Holy Year or Jubilee is a great religious event, held roughly every 25 years, for the forgiveness of sin and the punishment due to sin…a year of reconciliation between adversaries, conversion, and a time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation…of solidarity, hope, justice and commitment to serve God with joy, and in peace with our brothers and sisters (in Christ)…above all, the year of Christ, who brings life and grace to humanity (“What is a Holy Year” www.vatican.va).”

“Mercy has been a central theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate, as expressed in his Episcopal motto: Miserando Atque Eligendo. This citation is taken from the homily of St. Bede the Venerable, during which he commented on the Gospel passage of the calling of St. Matthew: “Vidit ergo Jesus publicanum et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi Sequere me” {Hom21: CCL. 122, 149-151}. (Jesus, therefore, saw the tax collector, and because he saw by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, “Follow me.”) This homily is a tribute to Divine Mercy” (Edward Pentin NC Register.com).

“Pope Benedict XVI said Divine Mercy is the nucleus of the Gospel. {Recall Jesus’ word in Luke 6:36: “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”} So if we reject Divine Mercy, in essence, we reject the Gospel! The message of Divine Mercy is God loves us, all of us, no matter how great our sins…God wants us to turn to Him with trust and repentance while it is still a time of mercy, before He comes as the Just Judge.” We can do this by asking for God’s mercy; being merciful to others and completely trusting in God’s  mercy. And by our exercising mercy to those in our lives -- in effect God’s mercy is passing through us to the world (The Message of Divine Mercy As Easy as ABC: Marian Press DMMR 0411082).

The significance of entering into this Jubilee Year of Mercy is clearly set forth in the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew, where Jesus reveals to us that His mercy is to come through each of us as it relates to the needs of those in the Family of God. Let us carefully reflect on this teaching of Jesus:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me; naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink. When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothed you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’.

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal hell fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. And these will go off to eternal punishment but the righteous to   eternal life’” (Matthew 25:31-46).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church mirrors the heart of this teaching of Jesus in being merciful in Part Three, paragraph # 2447:

“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and corporal necessities (cf. Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3). Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead (cf. Mt 25: 31-46). Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity, as it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.” (cf Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6: 2-4)

As mentioned above, there are many ways in the spirit of this coming Jubilee Year to be merciful and to receive mercy along with its concomitant special graces. And since Jesus said, “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful,” and “Love as I have loved” -- we are thus experiencing and achieving dynamically what it means to be made in the Image and likeness of God with its eternal attainment and glory of having the heavenly Father forever see and love in us what He sees and loves in His Son.

Tags: Clergy Corner, Fr. Robert
 

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