This week, the Vatican announced more specific details about the upcoming Year of Mercy. They also introduced a logo for the Holy Year. There has been much excitement about this Jubilee –which is to begin this coming December, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception—especially on Divine Mercy Sunday when Pope Francis released Misericordiae Vultus, the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
The Holy Father called for this Year of Mercy, because we “need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy.” He continues:
It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.
We also need to contemplate this beautiful mercy, “so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.” If the Church does not show the world mercy, then how will the world know of the all-merciful Father? How will they know of His presence? Of His love for us? Pope Francis declared this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a time for the Church “when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.”
There would be no Year of Mercy if it weren’t for the Pope of Divine Mercy. During his presentation at the Shrine last month, Andreas Widmer said that this Holy Year is "one of the many fruits of the teachings of John Paul."
Pope Francis does indeed draw from the teachings of Saint John Paul II in Misericordiae Vultus. The Holy Father especially notes the great saint’s encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, and he quotes:
The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy – the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer – and when she brings people close to the sources of the Savior’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser.
Let us join the Church in this mission, then, to bring people close to the mercy they need. With the help of St. John Paul II in heaven, and with the guidance of Pope Francis here on earth, let us join in the mission for mercy!
St. John Paul II, Pray for Us!