Jubilee Year of Mercy

Why did Pope Francis choose a Jubilee Year of Mercy?

jubilee year of mercy

A Jubilee Year of Mercy starting from 8th December 2015 (up until 20th November 2016) was chosen to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

Pope Francis said;

"The Church feels a great need ... a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The ...time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way.

It was ...a fresh undertaking for all Christians to bear witness to their faith with greater enthusiasm and conviction. ...to be a living sign of the Father’s love in the world.

With these sentiments of gratitude ...and ... responsibility ...we shall cross the threshold of the Holy Door fully confident that the strength of the Risen Lord, who constantly supports us on our pilgrim way, will sustain us.

May the Holy Spirit, who guides the steps of believers ...lead the way and support the People of God so that they may contemplate the face of mercy”.

How can a Pope declare a Jubilee Year of Mercy? 

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and he is the successor of Peter on whom Christ founded His Church.  Jesus said to Peter, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).  

We therefore know that whatever the Pope declares for God’s people in order to draw them closer to God is accepted in heaven. 

What is Mercy and how can we be 'Agents of Mercy'?

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy we too are called to be merciful towards others.  Catholic catechism teaches us 'What is Mercy' and has given us a guide for ‘Works of Mercy’ which are based on scripture.  In prayer we can ask the Holy Spirit to inspire and guide us as to which path we could take. 

what is mercy

Pope Francis’s words:

"This year, we need to reflect together on how..., as communities of love and service, does these works: where we are doing them: where we could do more, and what that would look like".

The Corporal Works of Mercy


1. To feed the hungry. (Matthew 25:35; James 2:14-17)

2. To give drink to the thirsty. (Matthew 25:35; 10:42)

3. To clothe the naked. (Matthew 25:36; Job 24:7-10))

4. To welcome the stranger. (Matthew 25:35; Genesis 18:1-8)

5. To visit the sick. (Matthew 25:36; Sirach 7:35)

6. To visit prisoners. (Matthew 25:35; Hebrews 13:3)

7. To bury the dead. (Tobit 1:17; 12:12; Sirach 38:16)

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

1. To counsel the doubtful. (Proverbs 11:14; Sirach 37:13-15)

2. To instruct the ignorant. (Acts 8:30-31; 1 Peter 3:15)

3. To admonish sinners. (Matthew 18:15:17; James 5:19)

4. To comfort the afflicted. (Isaiah 40; 2 Corinthians1:3-5)

5. To forgive offences willingly.(Matthew 5:38-46; Luke 23:34)

6. To bear wrongs patiently. (1 Corinthians 13:4,7; Matthew 18: 21-22) 

7. To pray for the living and the dead. (Matthew 6:5-15; 2 Maccabees12:39-46)

What is Mercy as explained in Scripture?

In reflecting, 'what is mercy' in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are called to be Merciful like the Father.

This theme was chosen by Pope Francis from the Gospel of St Luke, which states, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).  Pope Francis says that being merciful is not only an action of God the Father. But it is for us as His true children to imitate.  In that way God would know who his true children are.

Leading up to that verse of “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36), Jesus explains what his true followers should look like.

Jesus wants us:

  • to Love our enemies
  • to do good to those who hate us
  • to bless those who curse us
  • to pray for those who treat us badly

This might look like ‘foolishness’ in the eyes of the 'world'.  Even for us Christians this can be challenging as it is easy to be around like-minded people, or people who love us or at least treat us nice.

But Jesus wants us to be true followers – to follow him to the cross.  He accepted suffering and prayed for those who persecuted him.  He wants us to be like His Mother – The Mother of Mercy. 

Reflecting on how the Mother of Jesus followed him to the cross, she did not argue with the high priests or rebel against those who persecuted her son: instead she prayed for them.  She did not find fault of the Apostles who abandoned him: instead she cared for them like her own children.  She did not lose faith in God: instead her faith became even stronger and she was present with the Apostles when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

So I often ask for my dear heavenly mother's help. Her prayers help me fight the battles in my mind against unfairness, being misunderstood, being provoked and even being treated badly.  This is an ongoing struggle, but with the help of those who have done it before (the saints), we can win the battle and be merciful.

Experience God's Mercy in this Jubilee Year of Mercy by taking a pilgrimage to a Holy Door.

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