December 9, 2015 // Uncategorized
Bishop opens Jubilee Year of Mercy
FORT WAYNE — Celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades opened the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a year that will stretch through Nov. 20, 2016.
Pope Francis proclaimed a special year “inviting us to contemplate the mystery of divine mercy,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily at the Dec. 7 Mass. To open the year, preceding the official opening, the diocese presented a play, “Faustina, Messenger of Divine Mercy,” that spoke of St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy message at three locations across the diocese.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades quoted Pope Francis and asked the faithful to keep the pope’s words in mind throughout the jubilee year: “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in Him.”
Bishop Rhoades said, “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. Mercy has become living and visible in Him! If we wish to see God, to know God, we must look to the Son, to Jesus, who reveals to us the face of the Father, the Father who is rich in mercy.”
Bishop Rhoades said it was appropriate for the jubilee year to begin on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “because Mary is the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of Mercy.”
“In fact, she is the masterpiece of God’s mercy in the world. No other creature manifests God’s mercy as does Mary Immaculate,” the bishop said.
Bishop Rhoades spoke how God put enmity, complete and radical opposition, between the devil and a woman. “He preserved a woman from any stain of sin! That woman is Mary. Her offspring is Jesus. In His mercy, God did not allow her to inherit the condition of original sin. If she would have inherited this condition, and participated in the disorder and corruption that the rest of us inherit from Adam and Eve, then she would have been at least partially under the sway of Satan and evil.”
God poured out His grace upon Mary from the first moment of her existence. This is the Immaculate Conception.
“That is why at the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel addressed Mary as ‘full of grace,’” the bishop said. “She is the only human person ever addressed this way in the whole Bible. She received a special gift from God not due to any merit on her part, but on the basis of the merits of her Son. God the Father applied the graces of His Son’s passion and death, which He foreknew, to Mary at the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb.”
“The Father, rich in mercy, sent His Son to be our Redeemer, to save us. And He saved Mary. Yes, Mary, as a daughter of Adam and Eve, needed to be saved and to be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. In His mercy, God saved her in a unique way, applying that grace to her at the moment of her conception,” he said.
Bishop Rhoades spoke how Catholics are to live the Year of Mercy.
“Based on the reflections of Pope Francis, I recommend to you and all the people of our diocese who are able three things: the contemplation of divine mercy; the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,” he said.
He suggested Holy Scripture, particularly meditation on the psalms of mercy in the Old Testament and the parables of mercy in the New Testament, which are posted with this story.
The bishop said he was praying that many people will return to the sacrament of Reconciliation “and allow themselves to be touched by the tender love and mercy of God.”
A third piece is the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. “I invite everyone, myself included, to heed Pope Francis’ call to rediscover the works of mercy. There are 14 of them,” Bishop Rhoades said.
Some works of mercy may be a struggle.
“You could say,” Bishop Rhoades noted, “how in the world can I visit the imprisoned, one of the corporal works of mercy? Well, if you can’t do it literally, you could do it in a different way, like donating a book to be given to a prisoner through the diocesan prison ministry or maybe praying a rosary for someone in prison.”
Other corporal works one can do more directly, he said, like clothing the naked: for example, giving a warm winter coat to a poor person you meet or to the St. Vincent de Paul Society to give to the poor. Sometimes the spiritual works of mercy can also be challenging, like forgiving offenses.
“Just because it is challenging,” Bishop Rhoades said, “we should not let ourselves off the hook. If we’re not trying to forgive those who trespass against us, then we don’t mean what we say when we pray the Our Father. I invite you to think about the works of mercy and strive to practice them, thus learning to be merciful like the Father.”
Scripture passages for meditation during the Jubilee Year of Mercy
Ten Psalms of Mercy: 25, 41, 42, 43, 51, 57, 92, 103, 119 and 136.
Eight parables of mercy: Luke 7:36-50; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 15: 1-10; Luke 15:11-32; Luke 16:19-31; Luke 18:1-8; Luke 18:9-14.
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