Wednesday, December 16, 2015

TODAY'S CONNECTION




This "connection" came to me this morning as I was praying.  The connection is between the Jubilee Year and the Visitation.  Just as Elizabeth stood before Mary before the birth of their children, our Holy Father Pope Francis stood before the Holy Door and prayed before opening it.

How his heart must have been leaping for joy!  There would have been the immediate anticipation of the moment, couple with the hopes for the year.  He must have felt the weight of the door somehow reflected the weight of his responsibility.  He must have been aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit as the Mercy of God in Christ Jesus was being proclaimed and celebrated in this simple act of opening a door.

I know I feel like Elizabeth as I watched that historic moment on Dec. 8th.




Here is what Pope Francis had to say:

In a few moments I will have the joy
of opening the Holy Door of Mercy.
We carry out this act – as I did in Bangui –
so simple yet so highly symbolic,
in the light of the word of God
which we have just heard.
That word highlights the primacy of grace.
Again and again these readings
make us think of the words
by which the angel Gabriel
told an astonished young girl
of the mystery
which was about to enfold her:
“Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28).

The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all
because of what the Lord accomplished in her.
God’s grace enfolded her and made her worthy
of becoming the Mother of Christ.
When Gabriel entered her home,
even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries
became for her a cause for joy, a cause for faith,
a cause for abandonment to the message revealed to her.
The fullness of grace can transform the human heart
and enable it to do something so great
as to change the course of human history.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception
expresses the grandeur of God’s love.

Not only does he forgive sin,
but in Mary he even averts the original sin
present in every man and woman
who comes into this world.
This is the love of God which precedes,
anticipates and saves.
The beginning of the history of sin
in the Garden of Eden
yields to a plan of saving love.
The words of Genesis reflect
our own daily experience:
we are constantly tempted to disobedience,
a disobedience expressed in wanting
to go about our lives
without regard for God’s will.
This is the enmity which keeps striking
at people’s lives,
setting them in opposition to God’s plan.
Yet the history of sin can only be understood
in the light of God’s love and forgiveness.
Sin can only be understood in this light.
Were sin the only thing that mattered,
we would be the most desperate of creatures.
But the promised triumph of Christ’s love
enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy.
The word of God which we have just heard
leaves no doubt about this.
The Immaculate Virgin stands before us
as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfilment.

This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace.

To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover
the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone
and goes out personally to encounter each of them.
It is he who seeks us!
It is he who comes to encounter us!
This will be a year in which
we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy.
How much wrong we do to God and his grace
when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment
before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy
(cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)!

But that is the truth.
We have to put mercy before judgment,
and in any event God’s judgement
will always be in the light of his mercy.
In passing through the Holy Door, then,
may we feel that we ourselves are part
of this mystery
of love,
of tenderness.
Let us set aside all fear and dread,
for these do not befit men and women who are loved.
Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering
that grace which transforms all things.

Today, here in Rome
and in all the dioceses of the world,

as we pass through the Holy Door,
we also want to remember another door,
which fifty years ago
the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council
opened to the world.
This anniversary cannot be remembered
only for the legacy of the Council’s documents,
which testify to a great advance in faith.
Before all else, the Council was an encounter.
A genuine encounter between the Church
and the men and women of our time.
An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit,
who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals
which for years had kept her self-enclosed
so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm,
on her missionary journey.
It was the resumption of a journey
of encountering people where they live:
in their cities and homes, in their workplaces.
Wherever there are people,
the Church is called to reach out to them
and to bring the joy of the Gospel,
and the mercy and forgiveness of God.
After these decades, we again take up
this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm.
The Jubilee challenges us to this openness,
and demands that we not neglect
the spirit which emerged from Vatican II,
the spirit of the Samaritan,
as Blessed Paul VI expressed it
at the conclusion of the Council.
May our passing through the Holy Door today
commit us to making our own
the mercy of the Good Samaritan.



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