Part 1

BBD (Nov. 29, 2016)

Pope Francis recently concluded the celebration of the extraordinary Jubilee of mercy (www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va) last Nov. 20, 2016 at the celebration of Christ the King. At the same time, he symbolically closed the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica and released his apostolic letter entitled Misericordia et Misera.

A jubilee year is called every fifty years and has roots in the Jewish tradition. It is as a reminder of God’s providence and mercy.  The practice of the jubilee year was adopted into the Catholic Church, and the themes of mercy, forgiveness, and solidarity have been maintained.

This year’s Iubilaeum Misericordiae from December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016, is an Extraordinary Jubilee.  It is an extraordinary Jubilee because it is called every 25 years (outside of the normal practice of fifty years) in the Catholic Church in order to emphasize a particular event or theme, in this case, mercy.

The logo of the celogo-of-jubilee-of-mercylebration captures the essence of this yearlong celebration. The motto Merciful Like the Father (taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure (cfr. Lk 6:37-38). The logo – the work of Jesuit Father Marko I. Rupnik – presents a small summa theologiae of the theme of mercy. In fact, it represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption. The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father. The scene is captured within the so called mandorla (the shape of an almond), a figure quite important in early and medieval iconography, for it calls to mind the two natures of Christ, divine and human. The three concentric ovals, with colors progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the night of sin and death. Conversely, the depth of the darker color suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father who forgives all. [1]

The reason for the Jubilee of Mercy according to Pope Francis in one of his homilies:  “Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. May the Mother of God open our eyes, so that we may comprehend the task to which we have been called; and may she obtain for us the grace to experience this Jubilee of Mercy as faithful and fruitful witnesses of Christ.”[2]


We must have always look, like Mary, with the eyes of mercy because this mercy, according to the Pope in his Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy entitled Misericordiae vultus, “is the very foundation of the Church’s life.”  (MV, 10).  We are limited in our capacity to forgive and Pope Francis acknowledges this when he said in the same bull that “At times how hard it seems to forgive! And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart. To let go of anger, wrath, violence, and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully” (MV, no. 9).

[1] http://www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va/content/gdm/en/giubileo/logo.html


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