God’s Forgiveness and Mercy
Pope Francis has declared an extraordinary “Jubilee Year of Mercy” for the whole Church beginning this month on Dec. 8 (the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) through Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King at the end of the liturgical year just begun.
The focus of the Holy Year, as designated by the Holy Father, is “Merciful Like the Father” and encourages us to understand better the themes of: 1. God is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4); 2. God’s justice is God’s mercy (Ex. 34:6); 3. Receive and share God’s mercy in this world.
The season of Advent, as we wait for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ and ask that he be born anew in our hearts, is the perfect time to ask that Christ’s mercy be renewed in our hearts and lives. With the utmost mercy, God sent his Son to become one of us, to suffer and to die on the cross, and to rise from the dead to give us victory over sin and eternal death.
From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has encouraged us to ask God for his forgiveness. The Holy Father has emphasized that God never tires of forgiving us. Christ has given us the sacrament of Reconciliation to cleanse us of sin and give us a fresh start in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we recognize and experience God’s forgiveness, we can’t help but be “Merciful Like the Father” and share God’s forgiveness with others. It’s difficult to forgive, but Jesus is not asking us to do anything that he has not already done for us. He knew and saw every sin that we would ever commit, yet still gladly went to the cross so we could be forgiven and share eternal life with him.
This is Good News! This is news worth sharing, and the Pope has asked us to share it, especially in this extraordinary time of mercy. Watch the bulletin and listen for announcements about special opportunities to participate in Jubilee Year activities. To begin, the right side door at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral has been sealed and will open as the Door of Mercy on the Third Sunday of Advent, Dec. 13, for the duration of the Holy Year.
The Church also invites us to reflect on and put into action the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy during this Holy Year. The Corporal Works of Mercy are: To feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to harbor the harborless; to visit the sick; to ransom the captive; and to bury the dead.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: To instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; the admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offenses willingly; to comfort the afflicted; and to pray for the living and the dead.