This year is the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. I am sure that many of us still recall the Jubilee song of 2000:
The tradition of the Jubilee year goes back to Ancient Israel. God decreed that every 50 years would be a Jubilee year. On the 50th year all debts would be cancelled and all conflicts reconciled. People returned to their homelands, and they bought back any land they may have sold. Life would begin anew. This economy of mercy emphasized the need for repentance, conversion, mercy and renewal.
Normally, the Jubilee occurs every half century. Yet in November 2015, Pope Francis declared an extra-ordinary Jubilee of Mercy. A mere 15 years later! Why so soon?
Perhaps our age is the age of which Jesus spoke to Saint Faustina, the apostle of mercy. We are living in the era of Divine Mercy! According to Father Michael Gaitley MIC, the graces raining on us now are the fruit of the countless martyrs of the 20th century. World wars, dehumanizing ideologies, and violent revolts in the 20th century resulted in more martyrs in the past century than all the martyrs of the Church of previous years combined.
These martyrs united their suffering with Christ, their blood shed as His blood was shed. When we beg for mercy, the graces we receive are the fruit of Christ, the Vine and His holy branches. We harvest the fruits of these martyrs — in their self-giving love they sowed the seeds of toil and tears.
What does this mean for us? As recipients of abundant mercy, we are called to be merciful to others as the Father has been merciful towards us. Love is a gift, an act of self-giving. Hence, love only exists in the measure that we give it away. When we hoard love, love disappears. Love is replaced with selfishness and pride. When we share ourselves with others, love grows and multiplies.
But this still doesn’t answer our question — What is so special about this year?
It has been said that the day Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb to the
day He died was a perfect cycle. We celebrate Christmas on December 25. On March 25, we celebrate the Annuciation, exactly 9 months before Christmas. This year, Good Friday fell on March 25, exactly 9 months before Christmas. A perfect cycle!
Affirming this perfect cycle, a relic of the blood of Jesus in Italy liquefies on Good Friday, whenever Good Friday coincides with the Annunciation. The last time this happened was in 2005.
Do you remember anything remarkable about 2005? 2005 was the year that the Divine Mercy Pope, St. John Paul II, passed away on the Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. In 2005 and in 2016, Good Friday coincided with the date of the Annunciation. In 2005 and in 2016, Divine Mercy Sunday fell on April 3. Proclaiming the Jubilee of Divine Mercy in this year affirms the Divine Mercy devotion propagated by St. Pope John Paul II.
Truly, this Jubilee of Divine Mercy is extraordinary! It is replete with proof that God has prepared this period of grace and mercy to bring His people back to their homeland; to give them a chance to renew their baptismal promises and live a life of deeper intimacy with Him!