Below is my homily for today’s 7:30 a.m. Mass (Wednesday of the 4th Week of Lent) in the crypt chapel of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Attending the Mass were the members of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as the faithful who were gathered for Mass at the Shrine this morning:
The Word “jubilee” is traced to the Hebrew word for a ram’s horn, yobel, blown to announce emancipation and restoration.
There is a Jubilee spirit in the tone of our first reading. Isaiah 49, which deutero-Isaiah is said to have written just as Cyrus begins his conquests signaling a return from Babylon slavery to Jerusalem, gives rise to this hymn of the New Jerusalem, which Passionist scholar Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller described this way: “Here, perhaps, is the most touching expression of divine love in the entire Bible; John will transfer the idea to the fatherhood of God, as in Jn 3:16.” Or we might add in the discourse of Jesus on the Father’s great and effusive love for us in John 5.
Such beautiful words: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”
When Pope Francis came to us at St. Matthew Cathedral in Washington, D.C., I acknowledged that he would be with the influential, the forgotten and all of us in between. A humble instrument of God’s love, he did just that.
Today we recall that the jubilee of mercy… our Father never, ever forgetting us or those we serve … is meant to be proclaimed this Lent.