Today we conclude both the liturgical year and the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. As we bring to a fitting conclusion this great jubilee, today’s Gospel summarizes for us the extent of God’s mercy is limitless. While on the Cross, dying for the forgiveness of our sins, Jesus expresses God’s mercy upon the repentant sinner hanging next to him. At that man’s “eleventh hour” he had an amazing encounter with Christ upon the Cross and underwent a conversion pleading, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” (Luke 23:42). It is the simple oration uttered in complete trust of divine mercy.
This passion scene is uniquely Lucan and it shows how God’s greatest power is his mercy. Jesus, in a moment of supreme weakness – hanging naked on the cross, dying and suffering agony – offers the repentant criminal divine mercy: “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43). “It is proper to God to exercise mercy, and he manifests his omnipotence particularly in this way,” writes Pope Francis quoting Saint Thomas Aquinas, underscoring that “God’s mercy, rather than a sign of weakness, is the mark of his omnipotence,” (Misericordiae Vultus, n.6). For those who open their hearts to encountering Christ the King of the Universe, God’s infinite mercy is readily available. Let’s conclude this Extraordinary Jubilee thanking God, the all merciful, for the experience of liturgically and ecclesially reflecting on this wondrous mystery of divine mercy.