My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is a beautiful and special day, as we join our Catholics brothers and sisters all around the world in opening the Holy Doors of our Cathedral for the Year of Mercy.
A door that is open is a sign of welcome and hospitality. And in this Year of Mercy, God is welcoming all of us to come into his home, his house, his family, the Church.
This Year of Mercy is a new time for all of us. In this holy year, the Church is calling all of us to rediscover the beautiful experience of the mercy of God. Every one of us needs to walk through the door of mercy.
But the mercy that we seek can only be found in a personal encounter with the living God.
And that’s what our readings for this third Sunday in Advent are talking about — getting ready to meet Jesus Christ, who shows us the merciful face of God.
In the first reading we heard this morning, Zephaniah the prophet tells us: “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty Savior. He will rejoice over you in gladness, and renew you in his love.”
Mercy is God’s love in action — mercy is the work of his salvation. God’s mercy should be a “game-changer” for us — it should change our lives, change our hearts.
But God does not do this work of renewal by himself. He needs our cooperation, our preparation. His mercy is a grace — it is a gift that he offers to us. We need to accept that gift of his mercy.
That’s what St. John the Baptist is telling us in our Gospel today.
As we heard, the people come to John and they want to know: “What should we do?” That’s a good question for us. What should we do — to get our hearts ready for God’s mercy, ready for Jesus?
And John gives us a pretty good outline. He tells us — share your clothes and your food with those who do not have any; be honest and truthful in your work and in your dealings with others.
My brothers and sisters, the Christian life is not complicated. It’s about love, it’s about mercy. It’s about truth.
Living a Christian life means being the people that God made us to be. It means living as sons and daughters of God. It means being kind and merciful to our brothers and sisters — as God is kind and merciful to us.
When we experience the kindness and mercy of God, it leads us to want to go out and share that kindness and mercy with others.
St. Paul says in today’s second reading — “Rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near!”
Kindness is the way we express mercy in our lives. Kindness is the tender mercy that we show to others — when we offer a helping hand, when we try to make life easier for someone, when we try to promote reconciliation and understanding in our homes and in our communities.
Kindness is like a universal language. Everyone understands it when you are kind to them. Kindness is “contagious” and evangelical.
When we are kind to other people we are spreading the good news of God’s kindness and God’s mercy. When we are kind to other people they want to be kind too. So one act of kindness can start a revolution of mercy in our world.
So my brothers and sisters, the doors of mercy are wide open now! They are open for you, and open for me — and they are open for everyone.
I was thinking that a beautiful goal, for each one of us, during this coming year will be to invite, at least one new person, to walk through these doors of mercy.
So, let’s try to bring one person back to Church, one person back to the house of God; back to the loving arms of our merciful Father.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary, who is the Mother of Mercy, to make this a beautiful year for all of us. And may we stay close to her always and to St. Joseph — as we prepare to receive God’s promise of mercy, the gift that God wants to give us on Christmas.