As the Universal Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception she also inaugurated the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. This Jubilee Year is a moment of grace for us all as we reflect on the profound mercy of God, sinners we all are. It is an opportune moment for us to turn away from our “perilous” and “deadly” habits, repent, seek the loving embrace of the Father and be renewed on the course of life.
To efficaciously illustrate the welcoming embrace of our Loving God, mercy being the passageway connecting God and man, different dioceses all over the world flung open Holy Doors through which the repentant may pass through. Our Lord Himself said, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:9).
It is our Lord Jesus, however, who first passed through the door even before we have been asked to step into it. He passed through the portal which divides eternity and time, divinity and humanity, royalty and poverty and infinity and limitedness. Being rich in mercy, He became one of us and met us where we were. He became a “brother to all” and entered into our fraternity.
The Holy Door of Mercy becomes even more significant to us because at its threshold is our Gospel Fraternity. God has shown us His mercy by calling us to the fraternity and gifting us with brothers. Unworthy, weak, and wounded by our histories, we have palpably felt His love and forgiveness through the brothers when we were welcomed and accepted as equal. How often have we fallen short of our commitment yet we find brothers who are ready, by God’s grace, to forgive and clothe us renewed.
We are called to “love one another from the heart, bear one another’s burdens and faults, apply ourselves without interruption to the love of God and charity toward our brothers, striving to give an example of virtue to one another and to everyone, and mastering our own passions and evil inclinations…We walk in humility always imbued with a spirit of mutual understanding and sincere esteem cultivating dialogue among ourselves, trustfully sharing experiences and manifesting our needs to one another” (Cfr. Capuchin Constitutions 89:2-3). As brothers willingly and authentically live our Gospel Fraternal life, we pass amidst and with them through the door of mercy.
There may be occasions, however, when we find it difficult and trying because the gate has become narrow at certain points (cfr. Matthew 7:13) as we realize the imperfections of our fraternity in its striking deviations from the “ideal.” When we seek understanding, there might be none; comfort and we find otherwise; dialogue and acceptance but we find instead impregnable walls of bias and prejudice; we look for friends and they would have gone.
But if we look through these seeming painful and difficult experiences with eyes of faith, then we see that they shape, form and mold us that we may fit through the threshold of the door of mercy and be granted passage to eternity. Mercy has been given us, mercy too we should be ready to give (cfr. St. Francis’ Letter to a Minister: 2-11). We shall then always see the loving gaze of the Father and in the end be comforted by His merciful embrace. The brotherhood becomes both a dispenser of God’s mercy and the cause to cry for mercy to the Lord. At both instances God remains “Emmanuel” as we walk through the door.
Let us then not grow weary amidst the challenges and difficulties of passing through this holy door. Let us remain steadfast and persevering until the end.
Let us be consoled by the thought that our Lord has gone through the same door more than 2000 years ago. He has shown us the way. Today, He still walks with us as we continue our passage to LIFE.
A Blessed Christmas to you all!
Br. Eugenio Juanilo P. Lopez, OFMCap.