Some people would say I like the sound of my own voice. I’m well able to talk and I can feel quite at home in any pulpit. Words usually come easily to me. One of my faults is that I don’t prepare very well to write a homily.
Therefore, I made a conscious decision to write a Christmas homily for our Masses in the parish and the friary. I wanted to say something about God coming into our human story as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem and how Jesus Christ is the true door of mercy for all. I wanted to attempt to tie it all in with the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Church. The Holy Father, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s in Rome on December 8th. Here in the Dublin archdiocese, Archbishop Martin opened the Jubilee Door of Mercy in the Pro Cathedral last Sunday.
In Pope Francis’ Document inaugurating the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy entitled Misericordiae Vultus, some lines really jumped out at me; for example, the Pope says; “Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” He goes on; “The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel.”
However, every time I tried to sit down to write something, I got distracted. I was called down to the parlour and the front office to meet different people and I also took a couple of phone calls. At the same time, I was conscious that I needed to go out to buy some gifts for our valued helpers and volunteers in the friary and the parish. I sat in front of the computer screen and tried to put some words together based on some inspiring thoughts from Pope Francis and the minute I’d begin to get on a roll, the phone would ring.
On reflection, when I went to meet people in the parlour, at the front office, or on the phone, I became aware that I had an encounter each time with Christ. Someone came for confession and I was able to help them to begin again for Christmas. Some people came for help of some kind or another and they needed me to give them a listening ear and spend some time with them. Someone who wanted to help Br. Kevin help the many that come to the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless. And we’ve been moved by the magnificent generosity of ordinary people.
St. Conrad of Parzham, (1818-1894) a Capuchin, said that when he was called away to the parlour he would respond with “Yes Lord” as if it was God himself that needed him. Blessed Mother Teresa in her ministry to the poorest of the poor used to say she just saw Jesus himself in a distressing disguise.
On Christmas Day, a Saviour has been born for us, He is Christ the Lord. We need to open our eyes to recognize him and our hearts to love him as he loves us very much and indeed Jesus Christ is the mercy of God. No one is forbidden to approach the crib, there’s a place for you there, and a welcome. Amen.