By: Elena V.
ROME- The Jubilee is a special year of forgiveness of sins and universal pardon. It has ancient roots in the Jewish tradition and it is stood as a reminder of God’s providence and mercy. A Jubilee year, in the Bible, is mentioned to occur every twenty-five years. But in 2015 this cycle has been broken by Pope Francis on November 18 when he announced the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy! It is also an exceptionally important period time because it marks the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.
There are two different types of Jubilee: the ordinary Jubilee, that is celebrated every
twenty five years, and the Extraordinary Jubilee that is only called for special occasions. This leads us to ask ourselves one important question: why then did Pope Francis call the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy? Pope Francis answered this question clearly by saying: “Simply because the Church at this moment of great historical changes, is called to offer with greater intensity the signs.” Pope Francis called this Extraordinary Jubilee because his main objective is to direct our attention towards a time when faith might grow stronger and more effective. He wants to lead us in the direction of mercy, forgiveness and kindness.
This is the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, but what does the word “Mercy” mean? This significant and meaningful word signifies forgiving one another combined with compassion and forbearance. It is the commitment to care about the difficulties of others. Being merciful is showing deep kindness and warmth to other people. “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles is own flesh.” (Proverbs 11:17) Mercy is essential in our lives because it improves them. Mercy is what we have received from God and we are called to apply it wisely. This year’s Jubilee is expecting about 25 million people, the same number of people that it attracted in 2000. The first rite of the Jubilee of Mercy is the opening of the Holy Door. Opening the Holy Doors throughout the world is one of the central components of the Jubilee of Mercy because when they are opened, “the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, patrons and instils hope.” During his trip to Africa, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in the Cathedral of Bangui, in the Central African Republic. So what is a Holy Door? Essentially it symbolises the extraordinary way Catholics open themselves to faith and for pilgrims, walking through the Holy Door is the highlight of their journey. Pope Francis has inaugurated the Jubilee of Mercy by calling those who pass through the Holy Door to rediscover God’s mercy.
“To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy.”