Earlier this month His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, published a pastoral letter on the theme of the Year of Mercy, which commences on Dec. 8.
The letter, titled “Christ, the face of the Father’s Mercy,” started by noting that this event coincides with a difficult period in the history of the Middle East.
The first part of the letter explains what a year of mercy and a jubilee year means in the Bible and also in the teachings of Christ. For the Jewish people every 50 years was a jubilee year and the fields were left uncultivated, and prisoners and slaves were released.
In the history of the Church the first Holy Year was established by Boniface VIII in 1300. The last Holy Year was in 2000.
On Dec. 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis will open the Holy Door at Saint Peter’s Basilica. In the Holy Land the Holy Door will be opened in the Basilica of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, another in the Church of Saint Catherine in Bethlehem, a third in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and a fourth at Our Lady of the Mount Shrine, Anjara, Jordan.
The second part of the letter examined the implications of divine mercy for the lives of believers.
In the gospels the two parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan reveal God’s mercy towards sinners and then how we should practice this mercy towards others.
“As the mercy of God knows no borders, so should be the mercy of man towards his neighbor and especially the weak, the oppressed, the marginalized, the immigrants, the internally displaced and those who live on the peripheries of society,” the letter commented.
The letter also observed that mercy is not limited to individual relationships and that it included public life at the international, regional and local levels. “When mercy becomes part of public action, it is able to transfer the world from the sphere of selfish interests to that of human values.”
In a world marked by violence and oppression Christians are called upon to be witnesses to divine mercy. The letter called upon “all our faithful” to live mercy.
The third and last part of the letter consisted in a summary of the main points of the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis written on the occasion of the Jubilee of Mercy.
“Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!,” Pope Francis wrote.
Text of letter by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem – http://en.lpj.org/2015/10/07/pastoral-letter-of-hb-foud-twal-on-the-occasion-of-the-jubilee-of-mercy/