Pope Francis’ call for a jubilee Year focusing on mercy is a call to all of us. It is a call to conversion for the whole church. In the book of the Acts we hear the story of Pentecost as the Spirit came down upon the first followers of Jesus after his death and resurrection. (Acts 2:1-4) Like another Pentecost the Spirit is calling for a transformation of us as church. This conversion is to mercy, real mercy that brings pardon and healing and openness to those who have for so long been excluded and marginalized. It is to be a year of welcoming home, of liberating and of bringing back the exiles and the outcasts of our church and our world. All of this is the meaning of a jubilee year. What an opportunity and what a challenge!
Throughout the Gospels, we hear the words and actions of Jesus. So many stories of his openness to all, so many actions that welcomed and healed and forgave without measure mark the Gospels. He is the model of God for us. Above all else in the Gospel we see Jesus as the one who reaches out to the lepers, the wounded, the hurting, the outcasts and the excluded. His is a merciful mission to those left out.
This jubilee holy year of mercy pushes our church to be more inclusive, more open, more compassionate and more directed to the marginalized and the left out of our world. This takes us beyond rules and rituals, past doors that we often seem to close and barriers we seem to erect. As church we are to have a conversion, to become the disciples that we are called to be. To be such disciples of Jesus we must take on the life and consciousness of Jesus, seeing the world as Jesus does and acting as he does.
No person is to be excluded for this church of ours, not the sinner, not the sick, not the poor. Nor can we turn our backs on the divorced and remarried, on the pregnant single mother, on the gay woman or man. No one is beyond the unconditional love of God that is expressed in the mercy we are called to. This is the vision that is central to Pope Francis’ call to a jubilee holy year of mercy.
This call to mercy is indeed a challenge for us as church. But the openness that is so healing and forgiving will breathe new life into our church and world. Such mercy is a necessary part of being disciples of Jesus. Mercy is not optional for the Christian. As Pope Francis stated in the proclamation of this jubilee holy year of mercy: “[The church’s] very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.” Are we able to rise to this challenge and accept a conversion to openness as a community of faith, a church?
We would appreciate any suggestions regarding how we as a parish here at St. Theresa’s might best celebrate this jubilee holy year of mercy. Responses best made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) How can we best express this theme of mercy as a local community of faith?
2) What are some initiatives that we might take as a parish community to present the