Today we celebrate Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent – a day meant for rejoicing. Not unlike King Cyrus declaring the return to Jerusalem to our beleaguered Jewish ancestors during the Babylonian exile, Pope Francis brings us news to make Laetare Sunday especially joyful this year!
From America Magazine:
“In a surprising and far-reaching decision, Pope Francis has announced an extraordinary “Jubilee of Mercy” that will extend from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, and will involve the Catholic Church throughout the world.”
As we pass the midpoint of Lent we are encouraged to rejoice, each day we draw closer to Jerusalem after our exile. Like the reprieve offered by Cyrus, we are being brought back to our heart and our home. This news makes the day all the more joyful. This Holy Year of Mercy has also been declared a Jubilee year, making it all the more significant. From the link we read:
In the ancient Hebrew tradition, the Jubilee Year, which was celebrated every 50 years, was meant to restore equality among all of the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their personal freedom. In addition, the Jubilee Year was a reminder to the rich that a time would come when their Israelite slaves would once again become their equals and would be able to reclaim their rights.
It consists in a general pardon, an indulgence open to all, and the possibility to renew one’s relationship with God and neighbor. Thus, the Holy Year is always an opportunity to deepen one’s faith and to live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness.
This is really big news, and very joyful. As we celebrate the second anniversary of Pope Francis’ election to the seat of the Bishop of Rome, we rejoice in a very special way with this announcement.