CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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The Jubilee of Mercy and the sacrament of reconciliation

No one is more qualified than Pope Francis himself to explain the true meaning and aim of the Jubilee of Mercy.  Let us, therefore, listen to what he said about the Jubilee on several occasions: 

Unlike all the previous Jubilees when people could gain the Plenary Indulgence only by entering the Holy Door in Rome,  this time the Jubilee Grace will be given also to those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot go to Rome. In every diocese, entering by the Holy Door of Mercy, every Christian will be able to go on a journey of conversion, from darkness to light, from sin to Grace. 

“The Jubilee Grace is intended for every man and woman, and that’s the reason why the Holy Door of Mercy will be opened not only in Rome, but in every Diocese of the world... I wanted this sign of the Holy Door to be present in every particular Church, so that the Jubilee of Mercy could be an experience shared by each person.”

 

Loving and forgiving:

“However, mercy and forgiveness must not remain as pleasant words,” the Pope said, “but must be made manifest in daily life. Loving and forgiving are tangible and visible signs that faith has transformed our hearts and allow us to express God’s very life in ourselves. Loving and forgiving as God loves and forgives.”   

 

Jesus is the door:

The Door points to Jesus himself, who said: “I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). Passing through the Holy Door is the sign of our trust in the Lord Jesus who came not to judge but to save” (cf. John 12:47). “Passing through the Holy Door is a sign of the true conversion of our heart. When we pass through that Door it is good to remember that we must also keep the door of our heart wide open. The Holy Year will not be very effective if the door of our heart does not allow the passage of Christ who urges us to go toward others, in order to bring him and his love.” 

 

The Jubilee and Confession:

And then the Pope says that “another important sign of the Jubilee is confession.”                         

“Approaching the Sacrament by which we reconcile ourselves with God is equal to directly experiencing his mercy. It is finding the Father who forgives: God forgives everything. God understands us even in our limitations, and he even understands us in our contradictions. Not only this, but He tells us with his love that precisely when we recognise our sins he is even closer and he spurs us to look forward.” 

Very meaningful these words of the Pope.  At times, perhaps, even fervent Christians do not really understand the necessity of becoming aware of our own sinful nature. When going to Confession, they lament that they have to confess the same sins and hope that one day they may say to the Confessor: “Father, it is now okay with me. I did not commit any sin.” This is, of course, a great temptation, as if we could say, “I am okay, I do not need Jesus!”  And yet, in our everyday life we are in dire need of God’s forgiveness!     

On the other hand, if we realise that we have gone far away from His Love, we should not lose our hope of being forgiven. We should then look at Him and not at ourselves.  When we go to Confession, the centre of the sacramental celebration is not our sin, but God’s loving mercy. God’s merciful love is greater than any sin we might have committed.

 

That’s the real meaning of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: 

It is not just the desire that we had never committed that sin which covers us with shame. 

It is not just having our innocence restored, so that we could say to ourselves that we are good and honest people.  It is the grace of Christ that transforms our past experience of sin into a new awareness of  “being forgiven, because we are loved.”   It is the discovery that the love of God is more powerful than our own sins and can make of us new creatures. And it is by discovering the greatness of God’s love that we grow up in love. 

 

Let’s meet Jesus in Confession to enjoy the Grace of the Jubilee of Mercy.