When Pope Francis proclaimed a jubilee year for the whole church to begin on December 8, 2015 it came as no surprise that he chose mercy as its theme. From the beginning of his election as pope, Francis has asserted the centrality of mercy in the life of the Catholic community.
In this jubilee year, we as Church are being called to recognize who we are – a merciful community of faith. This is an opportunity for us to be renewed as a place not of judgment or condemnation, but as one of pardon and merciful love.
Pope Francis explained in his proclamation that the jubilee holy year will begin on December 8 with the opening of a special holy door at the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The opening of this door has been the symbol of a holy year proclamation for centuries. It will remain open for the entire year. Given the theme of mercy that will mark the current holy year the holy door takes on a special significance. As Pope Francis noted: [The door] “will becomes a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.”
The holy door at St. Peters will in many ways serve as a model for the door of every church, in every corner of the world. In every church, every parish, we will be called to present an open door to all, especially to those who have found themselves as outcasts or excluded. Mercy, consolation, pardon and hope are to be offered to all.
The call and challenge we are facing as Church and locally as parish community is a call to openness to all. Recalling Vatican II, the Pope remarked on what Council moved to accomplish: “The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress, were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way. It was a new phase of the same evangelization that had existed from the beginning.” This is what the earliest Christian communities strove to be – open, caring and merciful.
The holy year of mercy is calling us to accomplish this openness and mercy in the whole Church and in our local community here in St. Theresa’s. We are to be an open door of mercy and inclusion, offering the Gospel (Good News) to all who come to our community. Let us know how we might best do this. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
* How can we best express this theme of mercy as a local community of faith?
* What are some initiatives that we might take as a parish community to present