“Take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever…” - Bar. 5:1
When we focus on our own shortcomings and limitations, our gaze waivers from God. Tuesday marks the official beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy. In order to be “merciful like the Father,” we must shed our preoccupations and self-pity (the “robe of mourning”) and instead allow ourselves to be clothed in the mercy that the Father offers. Immersed in this love, we have the capacity to imitate it to the best of our abilities.
On Tuesday the physical door of St. Peter’s Basilica will be opened to celebrate the Jubilee Year. This opening signifies not only a greater opening of the Church to receive people in mercy, but an opening of our own hearts wider to receive the love that God offers. Pope Francis addresses the imprisoned and homebound in his letter regarding the Jubilee of Mercy. For people with no opportunity to actually enter through these doors of mercy in Rome or even the doors designated in local dioceses around the world, Pope Francis offers the opportunity to receive the grace of the Jubilee year in prison chapels, in their sickbeds, and in whatever ways are accessible for people with clear desire to return their hearts to God. He says:
May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.
I found this image of bars being transformed into an experience of freedom to be so powerful. For Pope Francis, these physical barriers cannot contain the love of God. I have the opportunity to open my heart to receive mercy each time I wake up and get out of bed in the morning, walk out the front door, or encounter a person with whom I have difficulty.
Whatever doors we pass through today, let us allow our hearts to be opened wider to God’s mercy.