Beginning on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church will celebrate an "Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.” This upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy is not only one of the most unique Holy Year’s the Church has celebrated in recent history, but is more importantly exactly what our world needs right now. It is the right kind of medicine that our wounded and broken world requires.
The uniqueness of this Jubilee Year is clearly evident throughout the Bull of Indiction that Pope Francis promulgated on Divine Mercy Sunday. First of all, he desired that the traditional “Holy Door” would not be confined to the churches in Rome, but that it would be present in every Diocese in the world. This kind of extension to every Diocese has never been done before in the history of Jubilee years. Additionally, these doors have been called “Doors of Mercy” in order to further emphasize their purpose. Pope Francis did all of this to ensure that God’s grace and mercy would be readily available to all people.
Secondly, Pope Francis has decided to send out “Missionaries of Mercy” during Lent, who are given the task to travel throughout the world bringing God’s abundant mercy to all people. They will even be granted the ability to forgive sins that are traditionally reserved to the Holy See. By doing this, Pope Francis again is highlighting the reality that God desires to be with His people and is always ready to reconcile sinners. These “Missionaries” are images of the Good Shepherd, going out to all the world seeking the lost sheep.
These are just two of the ways that the upcoming Jubilee Year is unique and they both highlight the simple truth that our God is not a distant God, but Love and Mercy Itself. Our God desires above all things to be with us.
This is the message that our world needs to hear. We need to know that God is tirelessly seeking us out, beckoning us to come back into full communion with Him. We need to know that even in the midst of all the violence and wars around us, God is there offering to us His mercy.
We need to return to the font of Divine Mercy and show the world how God is a loving Father, ready to embrace and heal us like the Father of the Prodigal Son. Our world is broken, bruised and battered and many desire to return to God, but often do not see Him in their friends or family members. We need to learn again what it means to be “Merciful like the Father” and go out to the all the world as missionaries of his Mercy.
But what does it mean to be "Merciful like the Father" (which is the theme of this Jubilee Year)? This question is what we will meditate on over the next several weeks as we discover how to make the most of this upcoming Jubilee Year.