Intention for Evangelization: – Sacrament Of Reconciliation Let us pray that we may experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God.
Pope Francis and his advisors could hardly have foreseen the difficulties surrounding the Sacraments this Lent! How can we taste the infinite mercy of God at this time?
Here we see Francis opening a Door of Mercy at the beginning of his Year of Mercy; and quite a dramatic opening it was, too! The two acolytes making sure the doors don’t bang.Maybe we can set ourselves the task of opening our hearts this Lent to let the sunshine of forgiveness in and perhaps we might share a little with one or two confidants to make sure we don’t go overboard and hurt ourselves.
Now another door of mercy from Zakopane in Poland. Open and welcoming, especially decorated for the occasion. Notice the image of the good shepherd or Samaritan figure, seen below in close-up.
This was the logo of the Year of Mercy, but carved in the local style for this community and for all the visitors, like us, who called by to pray. The motto says Merciful like the Father. Quite a challenge! Mercy is not something to treasure like that single talent, but something to be lived by being merciful.
And finally this photo has been cropped to show the words, Porta Misericordiae, Door of Mercy. I can’t find the original which had the backs of people’s heads and shoulders. It’s easy to tidy other people out of sight, when really we are, as this year of covid reminds us, all in this together. So not just, Have mercy on me, a sinner, but also, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on US. Let us pray for each other, and when we can and however we can, let us offer each other a sign of peace.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Psalm 24:7
Words of Pope Francis in Bangui when he opened the Holy Door.
God has brought me here among you, in this land, while the universal Church is preparing for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I am especially pleased that my pastoral visit coincides with the opening of this Jubilee Year in your country. From this cathedral I reach out, in mind and heart, and with great affection, to all the priests, consecrated men and women, and pastoral workers of the nation, who are spiritually united with us at this moment. Through you, I would greet all the people of the Central African Republic: the sick, the elderly, those who have experienced life’s hurts. Some of them are perhaps despairing and listless, asking only for alms, the alms of bread, the alms of justice, the alms of attention and goodness.
But like the Apostles Peter and John on their way to the Temple, who had neither gold nor silver to give to the paralytic in need, I have come to offer God’s strength and power; for these bring us healing, set us on our feet and enable us to embark on a new life, to “go across to the other side” (cf. Luke 8:22).
Jesus does not make us cross to the other side alone; instead, he asks us to make the crossing with him, as each of us responds to his or her own specific vocation. We need to realize that making this crossing can only be done with him, by freeing ourselves of divisive notions of family and blood in order to build a Church which is God’s family, open to everyone, concerned for those most in need. This presupposes closeness to our brothers and sisters; it implies a spirit of communion. It is not primarily a question of financial means; it is enough just to share in the life of God’s people, in accounting for the hope which is in us (cf. 1 Peter 3:15), in testifying to the infinite mercy of God who is “good [and] instructs sinners in the way” (Psalm 24:8). Jesus teaches us that our heavenly Father “makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Matthew 5:45). Having experienced forgiveness ourselves, we must forgive others in turn. This is our fundamental vocation: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
One of the essential characteristics of this vocation to perfection is the love of our enemies, which protects us from the temptation to seek revenge and from the spiral of endless retaliation. Jesus placed special emphasis on this aspect of the Christian testimony (cf. Matthew 5:46-47). Those who evangelize must therefore be first and foremost practitioners of forgiveness, specialists in reconciliation, experts in mercy. This is how we can help our brothers and sisters to “cross to the other side” – by showing them the secret of our strength, our hope, and our joy, all of which have their source in God, for they are grounded in the certainty that he is in the boat with us.
We are, somewhat belatedly perhaps, addressing the year of Mercy. Pope Francis began the year in Bangui, Central African Republic, opening the Holy Door in the Cathedral there. But open any door or gate, open any book, and you could find something new, something beautiful, when you cross the threshold.
Are you going in to spend time in a friend’s house, or leaving home on a mission – even if it’s only to the shop for bread, you can be walking out, or walking in, for God, alongside him. Feeding the family may be your mission for today, either buying the daily bread or working to afford it. Out you go to your work, come back to your home, and remember he is at your side as he was with the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). Open your gate, and let him in!
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. PS 24:7
Various members of our team will be writing about mercy in the next few weeks, but we start today with Pope Francis’s words as he threw open the Holy Door of Mercy at Bangui Cathedral.