Yesterday evening, we had a meaningful celebration at St. Mary’s Cathedral officially opening the Holy Door to the Year of Mercy. I pray this Year of Mercy will be a source of grace moving many people to a closer relationship with Christ, and more meaningful relationships with all.
I’m grateful to Mr. Tom Jacobson for providing a few photos from the event. I hope this Holy Year provides as much inspiration to others as it already has for me.
I’m departing this morning for Rock Springs to join the local community for their annual Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration. Relax all you liturgists, we will celebrate Mass for the Third Sunday of Advent!
Here is my homily for Mass celebrating the Third Sunday of Advent and the opening of the Holy Door at the Cathedral.
Third Sunday of Advent, Year C
Homily for Opening the Holy Door: Cathedral of Cheyenne, Wyoming
Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:7), bringing to fruition the words of the Psalmist, who said, “This is the door of the Lord where the just may enter” (see Psalm 118:20) Jesus is the one way that leads to the Father (John 14:6). Our entry into this Holy Year of Mercy through the Door of Mercy symbolizes the Church’s ongoing pilgrimage toward “Jesus Christ (who) is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8).
Pope Francis in his own words says this about the need for this Year of Mercy:
The Church needs this extraordinary occasion. In this era of profound changes, the Church is called to offer her particular contribution, rendering visible the signs of the presence and closeness of God. The Jubilee is a favorable time for all of us, because by contemplating Divine Mercy, which overcomes all human limitations and shines in the darkness of sin, we are able to become more certain and effective witnesses.
As we open this Door of Mercy, we are invited to use our hearts and imaginations to see this Door not just as the entrance to a structure, but as a means of entering more deeply the heart of Christ. The Year of Mercy is an invitation to focus our attention more intently upon the person of Jesus that we might better understand and appreciate the Mercy of God, the tenderness of God incarnate, made flesh, in the person of Jesus.
As we walk through this Holy Door, we are once again to engage our hearts and imaginations to realize the life long journey of our pilgrimage of faith. People of faith enter in and out of the door of their local churches hopefully on a regular basis. We come from our daily or weekly routines to give thanks to God, to worship God, to share with the Lord our prayers and struggles, and our deepest desire for him to accompany us on our way. We receive the power of his Word the grace of the sacraments, and the support of a community of faith. We come to the Lord at his invitation: “Come, follow me.” (Mark 1:17) We come at the sound of his voice: “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
We walk back through and out these doors into the world by Jesus’ commission: “Go into the world and proclaim the Good News!” We walk out these doors as disciples of the Lord, as his servants and missionaries. As our worship expresses our faith so too it forms us more fully into the Body of Christ. As members of the Body of Christ, we are sent into the world to express that faith and to share freely what has been freely shared with us, namely, God’s love and mercy.
This is the pilgrimage that every Christian makes throughout their life; a pilgrimage from contemplation to apostolic activity; from worship to giving expression to the love and mercy we have received.
In a world that is more and more separated from the Creator, we are more and more isolated from one another. In a world that is too quick to embrace the false god of self-love we have before us now an antidote of mercy. Mercy is a bridge God uses to reach us and express his joy. Mercy is a bridge for us to reach one another and further spread the joy of the Gospel.
Joy is the focus of this Third Sunday of Lent, known as Gaudete Sunday. Today, the Church begs God: “Almighty Father, give us the joy of your love – Jesus Christ.” This Advent season is a time for us to throw open the doors of our hearts to Christ. This is the time to cast off fear and to place our trust in God. This is our daily song, using the words of the Psalmist:
This I know, that God is on my side. In God, whose word I praise, In the Lord, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I shall not fear. (Psalm 56)
The Prophet Zephaniah says in the first reading today:
Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies; the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. (Zephaniah 3: 14-18)
This Advent season and throughout this Holy Year of Mercy, is a time for conversion to deeper faith. Mercy is an attribute of God which we are to experience and share. Mercy is an expression of God which cannot be separated from his love or justice. The reception of God’s mercy gives joy to the sinner, for in mercy the sinner comes to know his or herself as both loved and forgiven. This experience of mercy renews our joy and our hope in God, and thus our faith is renewed and strengthened.
God took great pleasure in creating the world, and even greater pleasure in creating man and woman; each one of us. He shares his joy with every one of us and with all of his creation, and today, we are called to rejoice in the salvation of our God! St. Paul instructs us well:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Jesus is the Way and the Truth, the very Life of God. (John 14: 6) Jesus is with us. Jesus is the reason for our joy. Jesus is the Mercy we celebrate and exercise during this Year of Mercy. John the Baptist instructs the people who come to him in preparation for the coming of the Lord. His guidance is needed in the world today, and appropriate instruction for the Year of Mercy:
Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” (Luke 23:11)
His instruction to the tax collectors and soldiers is wise counsel to people in the world of finance and business today:
Stop collecting more than what is prescribed. Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages. (Luke 3: 13-14)
As the Year of Mercy was inaugurated on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and we open the Doors of Mercy around the world on or near the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it seems fitting to close with a request for Our Lady’s intercession.
Through the humility and faith of Mary, God fulfilled his plan of salvation by providing a worthy mother for the Savior. Through Mary’s cooperation with the plan of God, our Lord took flesh in her womb, and entered the world to begin the work of salvation through the Paschal Mystery.
Throughout the history of the Church, Mary has appeared to many humble people who would hear her plea for the world to turn to God in prayer, penance and fasting. Her words to the humble servant Juan Diego seem encouraging for us as we begin this Year of Mercy:
Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? What else do you wish?
Mary, Mother of Mercy, look upon us as we begin this Year of Mercy. Direct our lives once again to God our Creator. Obtain for us the grace to humbly throw open the doors of our hearts to Jesus your Son. Intercede for us, for our families, and all those who are in need, that we may extend to others the tenderness of God, and the compassion of your Son that heals the sick, consoles the sorrowing, and frees the oppressed.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.0