On November 13, about 10,000 cathedrals, shrines, and churches around the world closed their Holy Doors followed by Pope Francis closing the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on November 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King, officially concluding the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Mercy has always been and always will be at the core of the Gospel but now, more than ever, is the opportune time to show and receive mercy in a world that is divided and hurting. Pope Francis elaborates, “It is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Since the inception of the Jubilee Year of Mercy last December 8, all the faithful have been summoned to renew their call to mercy. One Friday a month, Pope Francis paid visits to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, refugee shelters, and crisis centers, giving a gesture of comfort and sharing a message of courage and hope. Many dioceses offered resources and opportunities for the faithful to perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

For example, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee established a schedule of monthly mercy actions, such as praying outside an abortion clinic, giving donations, and volunteering at a food pantry or a hospital. An informative video series also inspired and guided parishioners about various works of mercy. Likewise, the Archdiocese of San Francisco encouraged its parishioners to participate in many service projects, including tutoring students, writing cards and letters to inmates, assembling survival kits for the homeless, and volunteering legal services for refugees and immigrants. Monthly parish bulletin inserts focused on different topics, such as evangelization and reconciliation, providing relevant prayers, recommended resources, and invitations to workshops, seminars, and volunteer activities.

Although the Jubilee Year of Mercy has ended and the Holy Doors now shut, let us continue to keep our hearts open, emptying ourselves to allow our Lord to fully enter our lives and show His love and saving mercy to the world through us. To be effective witnesses of the Gospel, we must first be faithful witnesses to the lives of our brothers and sisters, especially to those society has forgotten or cast aside. We must stand in solidarity with them for we are all members of the Body of Christ, and if one member suffers we all suffer just as when one member rejoices we all rejoice.

As Pope Francis said, “We evangelize not with grand words, or complicated concepts, but with the joy of the Gospel, which fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus…Evangelization does not consist in proselytizing. Proselytizing is a caricature of evangelization; rather, evangelization is attracting by our witness those who are far off, humbly drawing near to those who feel distant from God and the Church, drawing close to those who feel judged and condemned from the start by those who feel they’re perfect and pure, drawing near to those who are fearful or indifferent.” Our great task as missionary disciples is not easy. Nevertheless, we need not let our feelings of inadequacy or awareness of our flaws lead to discouragement and despair. Let us remind ourselves what our Lord said to St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).