“This is the opportune moment to change our lives!” Pope Francis wrote these words in his document outlining the Year of Mercy that begins this month.
As is outlined elsewhere in these pages, this jubilee is a big deal. Even if you don’t normally pay attention to these kinds of things, this is one that should perk up your ears.
The pope has explained that he has some things in mind for this jubilee that he would like the church to focus on. One is the corporal and spiritual works of mercy — caring for those in need and awakening our consciences to poverty.
Another is reaching people with the boundless mercy of God’s forgiveness of sins, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He has had much to say about this sacrament and the healing it brings, as well as much to say to confessors, and that continues in the Year of Mercy.
So it seems somehow fitting that the Year of Mercy begins in in the quiet, hopeful expectation of Advent.
Advent is a time of intensified prayer and of looking for an encounter with Jesus — of whom Pope Francis writes, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.”
Our devotions during Advent — the church’s “new year” — can help us to begin the Year of Mercy well, listening for the Lord’s voice and rededicating our hearts to him.
Advent is a time of “already, and not yet,” much like our whole life of Christian discipleship. The Kingdom of God is here among us, but not yet in that complete way it will be in heaven and at the end of time.
O come, o come Emmanuel! Bring us the Father’s mercy.