Zephaniah 3:14-18; Isaiah 12:2-3,4,5-6; Philippians 4:4-7
This past Tuesday, Dec 8th, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee year of mercy by opening the Holy Door in St Peter's Basilica. Today he will continue to spread the message of this Jubilee year by opening the Holy Door at St John Lateran Basilica the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.
Yesterday, our local Bishop Brendan, symbolically opened and dedicated the Holy Door of our Cathedral in Our Lady of Victory as the Diocese began its journey in this jubilee year of Mercy: Merciful like the Father.
Te Holy Door is symbolic of Christ who states it he gospel of John that He is the door and no one comes to the Father except through him. Passing through the door is a sign of our renewed commitment and conviction of faith to let ourselves be led by him who is the visible face of the Father's mercy.
The Church has called us to deepen our conversion throughout the centuries by these Jubilee years with a particular focus on a theme or celebration. The first Jubilee Year was in 1300 declared by Pope Boniface and the jubilee years usually declared at 25 year intervals though their have been occasion where the Pope declared an extraordinary year of mercy breaking from the 25 year tradition.
The idea of Holy Year comes right out of Salvation History as detailed for us in the book of Leviticus 25:10 where every 50 years people were to be set free from their debt and no collectors could collect and slaves were set free and land returned to their original owners.
The year marked a sense of reconciliation and forgiveness as well as restoration to wholeness.
This year Pope Francis has invited us to become merciful like the Father.
He wants us to return to the basics in such manner we bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters with merciful love. He invites us to a revolution of tenderness in such manner that we live the experience of the closeness of the Father whose tenderness is tangible so that faith be strengthened and our testimony and witness be more effective for the world and one another.
Just as the Father Forgives and forgets so we too are invited to live this reality daily in our lives, setting aside grudges and allowing hurts to be healed.
The hallmark of this year the Pope wants us to rediscover the richness of the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy. In doing so we will contemplate the mystery of mercy which is the wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace.
Mercy is the ultimate supreme act by which God comes to meet us. It is the bridge that connects God and man where we experience the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.
We are to Gaze at the effective sign of the Father's action in our lives which is Mercy.
God manifests his omnipotence in Mercy.
As we turned to the readings for this weekend in light of the jubilee year of mercy just a few thoughts
There is much said about different lifestyles in our day and age. There are a variety of classifications and descriptions and categories that can help focus our attention on particular lifestyles embraced.
Here are few descriptions i have come across: Hippie, clothing free, Primitive, living off the land, rural, city, traditional, simple, Activist, Green, a variety revolve around diets and food choices etc.
Lifestyles of the rich and famous.
St Paul in today's second reading invites us to embrace a lifestyle of rejoicing and gives us a script or recipe of living this out daily. It is a three step process.
1)Your kindness should be known to all: Kindness means to treat each other with respect and deference. It is all indicates equitable treatment: we treat everyone the same and show no partiality.
2) Choose to trust in God's providential care rather than give in to anxiety over worldly affairs or matters at hand-cast your cares on God who cares for you. We don't reflect enough on God's providential care and how he is at work behind the scenes of our life. We can't micromanage our life or the lives of others nor can we micromanage how God works in and around our lives and the lives of others. We do our best but at some point we have to create room for God to do his thing.
3)Practice prayer, petition, and thanksgiving. Too often when we go to pray we lead with our wants rather than actually asking God what we should be attentive to. When we pray we should ask God to show us what we need and what we should be seeking then we turn it into a petition that is fortified with thanksgiving.
This is St Paul's recipe for a lifestyle of rejoicing. It is isn't rocket science that is for sure but effective.
It follows on the same line of the Gospel where people ask John the Baptist what should they do to prepare for the Messiah. Is response is an unapologetic invitation to do what you should be doing. Live the right way. There is nothing greater than just simply being good for the sake of goodness. Go back and look at his responses and look at your life: how do we embrace doing the right thing simply because it is the right way to live and the good thing to do?
Be merciful like the Father!