The Pope reminds those gathered for a General Audience in St. Peter’s Square this week that “all are welcome: to experience the mercy of God, and that for this reason, the Roman Catholic Church must always be sure to keep all of her doors open to everyone, especially those seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy.
In his designation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Pontiff reminds us, also, that for Christians of all denominations, Jesus Christ is the face of the mercy of God, and in his own language, he writes that this sums up the mystery in the Christian faith.
Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him. The Father, “rich in mercy” … after having revealed his name to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” … Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God.
Mercy, says the Holy Father, is the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy is the natural and fundamental law dwelling in the hearts of us all, he says:
Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.
At 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. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.
The Holy Year will open on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On that day, the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica will become “a Door of Mercy,” through which all who enter will experience for themselves in the most direct and subjective way, the consolation and pardon of a loving God who instills hope for all Mankind.
As the extraordinary approaches, today we consider the great open door of God’s mercy, symbolized by the Holy Doors which will open in Churches throughout the world. The recent Synod of Bishops on the Family encouraged families in a particular way to enter this door of mercy and to open the doors of their hearts to others.
Jesus tells us that he stands knocking at our door, asking that we open it to him … How important it is for us to be good doorkeepers, capable of opening our doors and making our homes places of encounter and welcome, especially to our brothers and sisters in need! Jesus also tells us that he himself is the door … which leads to salvation; if we pass through him, we will find lasting security and freedom. As guardians of that door, we in the Church are called to be welcoming to all who seek to enter the fold of the Good Shepherd.
May the doors of our Christian homes be signs and symbols of the door of God’s mercy, a door ever open to all who knock and desire to meet Jesus.
Acting with faith and with courage,” he says, “We ‘cross the threshold of the mercy of God’