As I read these lines from the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy presented today, I could not help but recall the Holy Face of Jesus reserved today in Manoppello:
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
This coming year of jubilee is a year focused on the Face of Jesus. Even today we can look upon his Face because he left it for us on the napkin that covered his face in the tomb (see John 20:7):
It is this Face, the Face of Mercy, of which Pope Francis rightly said in his prayer,
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;made Peter weep after his betrayal,and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
From the very first Jubilee of 1300 proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII, this Face, the holy sudarium, was a central of the jubilee pilgrimage. Indeed, it was shown to the thousands of pilgrims who came to Rome to walk through the Holy Doors every Friday.
Throughout his Bull of Indiction, Pope Francis has called us to contemplate the Face of Christ. Let us, then, not forget this Face in this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy! If you make plans to come to Rome for the jubilee, make plans also to visit the Shrine of the Holy Face and venerate the Face of Mercy.