Most of us can remember major events which occurred many years ago. It might be marriage, it might be ordination to the Priesthood, it might be attaining a special academic degree, it might be the birth of a child or it might be an event which occurred in our society or in the life of the Church. Those moments took place so long ago. Yet, it does not seem possible that so many years have passed.
Dramatic changes have occurred around us both in the world and the Church and also in our families. Probably in us, also, although we may not be as aware of that. (Other than growing older!) Fundamental things stay the same:
Jesus Christ – yesterday, today and forever.
His Church – which is a continuing Sacrament of His mission and teachings.
The Importance of integrity, keeping one’s word, keeping one’s balance and values in a kaleidoscope of change.
Change in our family which continues solid and good relationships and in our friends.
How lucky we are when these things can be the same. How richly blessed we are in our families, we are grateful for them, especially at times of celebration. We are grateful that our families can surmount differences and difficulties and not suffer dire consequences.
Even though some may remember differently, I do not recall that any of us knew where we would be in 2015. I surely did not. But so much good has happened. And we are grateful for the chance to serve and for the excitement.
John the Baptist, even before Christ, spoke simple, moral common sense.
Share if you have more than you need.
Be honest and fair – do not take more than you are due.
Do not bully people. Tell the truth. Do not live for money.
But he spoke the truth: “One is coming who is far greater than I.”
We can affirm these simple truths in our lives. We examine ourselves. We are never too sophisticated to learn these lessons once again.
Today, in union with the Church around the world, we have opened a Holy Door here at the Cathedral Basilica to begin celebration of the Holy Year of Mercy. A Year of Jubilee or Holy Year goes back to the time of the Old Testament in which the Law of Moses described a special year for the Jewish People. This special year required people to restore land to the original owners after approximately a 50 year period, forgiveness of debts, the liberation of slaves and the land being left fallow.
In the New Testament, Jesus presents Himself as the One who brings the old jubilee to completion because He has come to preach the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:2). These particular actions were called for to strengthen faith and to encourage works of charity and fraternal communion within society. The first Christian Jubilee was proclaimed in 1300 AD by Pope Boniface VIII. It eventually became the custom to declare a Year of Jubilee every 25 years. But special years of Jubilee could be called more regularly. During a Jubilee Year it is particularly good to undertake a pilgrimage to those places designated by having a Holy Door. This Door is of great symbolic value, indicating our journey through life which leads to Christ who pointed out that He is the Way, that He is the Door to the Father. It is He who knocks at the doors of our hearts, our homes and our Churches. (These thoughts are dependent on the companion for the Year of Mercy printed by the Magnificat Organization.)
Christ stands knocking at the doors of our hearts. He calls tenderly to us and, as He did in that upper room where the Disciples gathered in fear, He calls out to us: “Do not fear! It is I!”
Another door which is important for us is the door to the Church. The Church door is a witness to us of important moments in our lives. We approach the Church at the time of Baptism, weddings, funerals, and other significant events. The Church door is the door to salvation, the portal of the Kingdom of God. Again we note that Jesus, Himself, told us that He is the Door to the Kingdom of Heaven. We go to Christ and through Christ to reach our eternal home always acting in the love of the Father who is always willing through His Son to forgive our sins and other failings.
Christ not only invites us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but He also leaves the keys to His Apostles assuring them that “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; whatever loosed on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” It is for us to enter through the door so that Christ may enrich our lives and change them in a loving way and by His grace.
As we continue our Advent journey and our journey through this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we await Jesus, we now look forward to celebrating His birth in a special way. As we welcome Him into our hearts, we know that at the end we will encounter Him as the Lord and Judge of all.