On 8 December 2015, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this same day the Holy Father, Pope Francis announced the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
God calls and chooses individuals to fulfil his will on earth. We are familiar with the calling of Abraham, Moses and prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They are people chosen by God to fulfill a certain mission. Mary is the New Testament example of God’s calling. In all callings, God is the one who takes the initiative; he sends his messenger to communicate his choice. For Mary, this call comes unexpectedly and is beyond human possibilities. For this reason she is troubled by the words of the angel Gabriel.
Mary was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and without the effects of Original Sin. This is called her “Immaculate Conception”. God created Mary free of sin and filled her with grace and goodness, yet he respects her freedom to choose to do his will. God completely filled her with the gift of grace so that the infant Jesus, who is fully divine and holy, could be formed in her womb and raised in a holy environment.
God doesn’t want Mary to act blindly and God wants a response that involves her whole heart, mind and soul. For this reason the angel Gabriel answers and affirms Mary, “Don’t be afraid.” After hearing God’s messenger, Mary gave her answer, “Let it be done to me according to your will,” (LK 1: 26-38).
Every moment of the day is an opportunity for us to imitate Mary in her dedication to please God. She was rewarded with the grace of the Assumption. We need to dedicate ourselves to following the path of holiness, too. That means giving a simple, humble “yes” to every opportunity provided by God to become more Christ-like.
“Lord, give me the courage to offer you my life as a blank sheet of paper. Write on it whatever you wish. Guide me so that I may cooperate fully in putting into action your blueprint for my life!”
Launching of the Year of Mercy:
Pope Francis has announced an “extraordinary” Jubilee which begins on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and known as the Year of Mercy. During this special year, the Church opens the “holy doors” and dispenses indulgences intended to bring us all closer to our Lord Jesus.
As with all Jubilee years, Pope Francis will open the holy door of St. Peter’s Basilica but he wants every cathedral in the world to open a holy door. The holy door is a symbolic door of mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and gives hope. The parishioners of St. Joseph were treated to such an experience. (As part of the launching we had the sound of trumpet of ram’s horn and the church bells were ringing as the people walked through the church).
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, on 8/12/2015, St. Joseph’s Church did a soft launch of the parish’s 2nd Mission and the Year of Mercy with the theme: BEC, Witnessing Jesus Through Works of Mercy.
What exactly is a “Jubilee” and what are its origins?
The Church’s practice of celebrating the Jubilee is inherited from the Ancient Hebrews. The Third Commandment of God is to remember the Sabbath Day (i.e., the seventh day of the week) and to keep it holy.
Building upon that, according to Leviticus, the year that followed every seventh of Sabbath Years (i.e., the 50th year, after 7 times 7 years [49 years]) was the Jubilee Year. The etymology of Jubilee, of Hebrew origin, is “the year of the blowing of the ram’s horn”, announced to the people by the blowing of a ram’s horn from the Temple.
The Year of Mercy is very much about doing away with spiritual poverty and slavery to sin, by restoring us to the full and rich life in Christ that is promised to us in Baptism.
BEC – Witnessing Jesus Through Works Of Mercy.
We, the parishioners of St Joseph, should be a strong and honest community. We. Catholics by faith know that we grow in our faith when we unite and work together to build our communities through works of mercy.
We would like to see strong families, strong communities and dedicated leaders, (safeguarded by the entire body of Catholic teaching), hold out together to ensure that the baptismal commitment of each individual is honoured.
Our commitment and a strong faith combined with our works of mercy and the teachings of the Church will change our life-style and deepen our relationship with the God of Mercy.
The beauty of Christian teaching is that Jesus Christ comes to heal the brokenness in each one of us. The Church of St Joseph is growing now… and I’m sure that in this Year of Mercy we can confidently and compassionately work together to bring success to our vision and mission.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
(click on any image to begin slide-show)