Dear Young People,
We have come to the last stretch of our pilgrimage to Krakow, the place where we will celebrate the 31st World Youth Day next year in the month of July.  We are being guided on this long and challenging path by Jesus’ words taken from the Sermon on the Mount.  We began this journey in 2014 by meditating together on the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).  The theme for 2015 was: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).  During the year ahead, let us allow ourselves to be inspired by the words: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).
1. The Jubilee of Mercy
With this theme, the Krakow 2016 WYD forms part of the Holy Year of Mercy and so becomes a Youth Jubilee at world level.  It is not the first time that an international youth gathering has coincided with a Jubilee Year.  Indeed, it was during the Holy Year of the Redemption (1983/1984) that Saint John Paul II first called on young people from around the world to come together on Palm Sunday.  Then, during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, over two million young people from around 165 countries gathered in Rome for the 15th World Youth Day.  I am sure that the Youth Jubilee in Krakow will be, as on those two previous occasions, one of the high points of this Holy Year!

 

Perhaps some of you are asking: what is this Jubilee Year that is celebrated in the Church?  The scriptural text of Leviticus 5 can help us to understand the meaning of a “jubilee” for the people of Israel.  Every fifty years they heard the sounding of a trumpet (jobel) calling them (jobil) to celebrate a holy year as a time of reconciliation (jobal) for everyone.  During that time they had to renew their good relations with God, with their neighbours and with creation, all in a spirit of gratuitousness.  This fostered, among other things, debt forgiveness, special help for those who had fallen into poverty, an improvement in interpersonal relations and the freeing of slaves.

 

Jesus Christ came to proclaim and bring about the Lord’s everlasting time of grace.  He brought good news to the poor, freedom to prisoners, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed (cf. Lk 4:18-19).  In Jesus, and particularly in his Paschal Mystery, the deeper meaning of the jubilee is fully realized.  When the Church proclaims a jubilee in the name of Christ, we are all invited to experience a wonderful time of grace.  The Church must offer abundant signs of God’s presence and closeness, and reawaken in people’s hearts the ability to look to the essentials.  In particular, this Holy Year of Mercy is “a time for the Church to rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father’s mercy” (Homily at First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, 11 April 2015).

Read the rest of the Pope’s Message at the Source: Message of Pope Francis – SDM EN