Iowa Catholic Men's Conference

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2015-Jubilee of Mercy

Man as Stone and Sculptor                                                  Text taken in-part from Pope Francis: ‘The Face of Mercy’

‘There are times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.’

Pope Francis has declared A Holy Year, a Jubilee of Mercy, which starts today, December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This feast day recalls God’s action from the very beginning of the history of mankind. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the darkness of evil. And so he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love. He chose her, preserving her from sin, to be the Mother of our Redeemer. When faced with the gravity of sin, God responded then, and responds now with the fullness of mercy.

‘Where sin abounds, God’s love abounds all the more.’ Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God, who is ever ready to forgive.

My childhood home had two entry doors, the front door that entered into the Family room and the back door that entered into the kitchen. Most of the time, family and friends entered through the back door and lingered in the kitchen. If you were not family you entered through the front door, knocking and entering when acknowledged. Our Church is a family who is invited to enter as such. Enter once through the front and then forever more, enter without knocking for you are family. 

All are invited and our arms are wide open to welcome anyone, regardless of situation. Mercy challenges and compels us to offer love, because we have been shown such abundant mercy and love.

 A holy door is a place of pilgrimage is a symbolic object that says, “I want to continue my journey of faith.” To enter into the Family of God. I want to Come Home.

 At the threshold of the door stands Jesus with open arms, welcoming us, calling to all of us, “Come to me. I will give you new life. Come to me. I will give you love, truth, and light.”

 When we come through this door with an open heart and a sincere desire to encounter the Lord, our lives will change. We will be filled with God’s abundant love and mercy.

When we were lost and the doors of Heaven were closed to us, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to be the fountain of mercy and the Door to paradise.

Saint John XXIII in opening statements at the Second Vatican Council, indicated the path we should follow, referring to the Church as the Bride of Christ said: “Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity…The Catholic Church, as she holds high the torch of Catholic truth at this Ecumenical Council, wants to show herself a loving mother to all; patient, kind, moved by compassion and goodness towards her separated children.”

We renew this truth. Turning to Our Blessed Mother and the Church to encourage us to be merciful, compassionate, using the sweet medicine of mercy, rather than the bitter sting of judgment.

“With our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Holy Trinity. The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of divine love in its fullness. This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given generously. The relationships he forms with people who approach him manifest something unique. The signs he works, especially in favor of sinners, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy. Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion.”

As we start this Jubilee of Mercy, we ask for mercy for areas of our lives in need of healing. But we also must pray for the courage to be God’s instruments of love, compassion and mercy. Holding nothing back and neglecting on one. This Advent, Joyful discipleship calls everyone into relationship, into the Family of God, Our Eternal and merciful Father.

Mercy, let it begin with me!