Pope Francis ushered in the Jubilee Year of Mercy today by pushing open the great bronze doors of St. Peter’s Basilica and declaring that mercy trumps moralizing in the Catholic Church. Over the next year, an expected ten million pilgrims will make their way through those doors and cathedrals across the country will celebrate God’s mercy by opening their own “doors of mercy.”
As Catholics, the Jubilee Year of Mercy offers us a unique opportunity to open our own “doors of mercy” in our everyday lives and embrace opportunities to share the grace that has been given to us through Jesus Christ.
Here are a few ways you can celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy in your daily life:
1. Make Confession a Priority
One of the primary focuses of the Jubilee Year of Mercy is to place the sacrament of God’s mercy (penance and reconciliation) at the forefront of Catholic life. Making confession a priority shows that we recognize that God’s mercy is essential for our salvation and reminds us that we are forgiven for our sins, dependent on God’s mercy, and surrounded by his love.
If you haven’t gone to confession in years, make a commitment to go. If you regularly attend confession already, talk to others about how the gift of God’s mercy has transformed your life and encourage them to commit.
2. Forgive Those Who Have Wronged You
“Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ,” (Eph 4:32).
As humans, we struggle with the idea of forgiveness. Our pride deceives us into believing that we deserve to carry grudges and that holding onto that pain is our right. But we are wrong—unforgiveness is a burden, a weight that only harms us, and we need to release it.
Jesus taught us this lesson over and over again to the point where he forgave the very men who put him to death. And as God has shown us mercy through the cross, through confession, and through every day of our lives, we must show mercy to others every day.
Forgive someone who has wronged you. Invite God into that situation and ask for healing where it is needed.
3. Show Mercy and Kindness to Strangers
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus speaks of how anytime we feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, or visit those ill or in prison that we are doing those things unto him (Matt 25: 31-46). One way to open our own “doors of mercy” is to seek out opportunities to do those things Jesus told us to do.
Those little acts of kindness create habits of mercy and kindness in our daily lives that God can build on to transform us even more into his likeness.
We can and should embrace ways to show mercy daily. For some of us, that might mean volunteering at a homeless shelter, a food pantry, or another organization. For many of us, it can be something as small as letting a car merge on the freeway rather than speeding up or paying for a stranger’s coffee the next time we’re at Starbucks.