On October 15, 1641, St. Vincent gave a conference to the sisters on the significance of jubilee year and the means of gaining treasures of God’s mercy in the jubilee year (The Conferences of St. Vincent, By Joseph Leonard C.M, Vol. I. 7). As we are about to conclude the great Jubilee year of Mercy, this conference of St. Vincent is worth reflecting on, as it was given during a similar jubilee year during his time.
First and foremost, Vincent explains to the sisters the Old Testament background of Jubilee. Every fiftieth year was celebrated as Jubilee, which gave many temporal benefits to the people; those who had sold property could recover it and those who were in debt were freed from it. Because of this the year was called the year of joy or jubilation. Though the Christian jubilee year has its historical background in the jubilee year of the Old Testament, the reason for the joy of jubilee is different. For us, the reason for the joy of jubilee year is because it gives the means to recover our spiritual graces, which we have lost by sin.
Pope Francis, often speaks about how sin causes our heart to close its doors and hardens, before the God who is full of mercy. Scriptures reminds us many times of this hardening of the heart by sin and as a result God abandons them ( Ex.32:7-10, 32:15-24). Pope John Paul II, said, “Losing the sense of sin is the greatest tragedy of our time.” Taking sin lightly will cause sin take root in our heart and make it iniquitous. There is no communion with God without a transformation of heart. That is the reason Jesus begun his public ministry by stating that we all need repentance.” The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe in the good news” (Mk 1:15).
According St. Vincent, the Jubilee year is great opportunity for us to recover God’s grace by a sincere confession of all our sins, there by not only our entire sins are forgiven but God’s mercy will compensate also for all the negative consequences which our sins caused. And this the meaning of the spiritual indulgence promised to us in this jubilee year by Pope Francis. It is the sacrament of confession which opens the doors of God’s mercy to us.
It is only in God’s light manifested in the words of Jesus and in the sacraments we can correct the deformation of our vision caused by sin. God’s gift of life and salvation is ever present before us, as his grace and mercy, but at the same time it has to be gained by our conscious efforts. May the Lord who inspired the holy father to declare this year as jubilee year by opening the holy doors, inspire us also to open our hearts to his saving mercy by making a good confession of our sins, thereby we regain our spiritual graces and strength to start afresh.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.