A heavily pregnant woman on a donkey turns up at your door one night and asks if you can help her. You don’t have to think twice: “Of course, come in and rest your weary feet and swollen ankles, I’ll just go and make up the spare bed.”
We know there was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph 2000 years ago but now Pope Francis is opening up a door through which we are all invited: the Holy Door of Mercy.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy starts on 8th December when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica. Over a week before, on his trip to Africa, the Holy Father will open a Door of Mercy in Bangui cathedral in the deeply troubled Central African Republic. Subsequent doors will be opened in Roman basilicas, churches and in cathedrals and shrines across the world.
Caritas has a special place in the year of mercy. On 18th December, Pope Francis will go to the newly refurbished Caritas hostel in the centre of Rome and open the Door of Charity.
The Pope invites us all to cross the threshold of the Holy Doors during this special year as “it is an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal”.
He asks us to discover the richness of the spiritual but also corporal works of mercy through which we can rediscover our capacity for compassion towards our brothers and sisters.
“Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead,” writes Pope Francis in the Bull of Indiction for the Year of Mercy.
We invite you in this Holy Year to be agents of compassion with Caritas in response to Pope Francis’ invitation.
Join us in welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and clothing the naked such as the refugees who leave everything in their war-torn country and arrive in Europe with nothing but hope.
Help us heal the sick and give medicine and comfort to those who are affected by HIV. Help us give safe and dignified burials to those who die from ebola. And pray with us for those who are alone and suffering in prison.
“In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love,” says Pope Francis.
By carrying out corporal and spiritual works and by supporting Caritas and spreading caritas (meaning love in Latin), you replenish the “wellspring of joy, serenity and peace” which is the mystery of mercy and which brings us closer to God.
As Pope Francis reminds us, “A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”