By BISHOP LUIS R. ZARAMA, Commentary | Published January 1, 2016 | En Español
A few days ago, during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis inaugurated the Holy Year of Mercy, which started with the opening of the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica. That day, Holy Doors were opened all over the world and in our Archdiocese.
This Jubilee Year and the opening of these doors are an invitation to enter and participate, through confession and living the sacraments, in the infinite mercy of our Lord Jesus, who is forgiving and caring.
As I reflect on when the first Holy Door was opened, I think of Joseph and Mary searching for shelter in Bethlehem and being turned away. Doors would not open for them. There was neither a room, nor a place for them or for the Messiah to be born and to enter our world. The doors were closed to receiving His grace.
But one place opened its doors, and in its poverty and darkness, offered Joseph and Mary a space to welcome and receive Jesus, the Messiah. This was an opening in Bethlehem.
With that welcome gesture, and just a few pieces of cloth and much love from Mary and Joseph, a stable was transformed into a manger, where grace entered the world. The power of love and openness made it possible to receive mercy, which transformed an empty stable into a place where the Good News was proclaimed to everyone, now known as Christmas.
In this Christmas and during this Holy Year, we are invited to receive mercy and cross the Holy Doors, in order to obtain the incredible indulgences of Jesus’ love.
The main thing is to open the doors of our hearts to let mercy come in and allow the love of baby Jesus to change us. This way, we may join the choir of angels that sing the Good News to a world that can be so self-centered that it doesn’t hear Jesus knocking on the door, seeking to fill us with His forgiving mercy because He loves us.
To live Christmas and this Year of Mercy is not fulfilling a ritual, but being transformed by the love of Jesus. The stable and the manger are both examples of the transforming power of God’s mercy and love for His Son, who transformed an abandoned, dark and dirty space into a place that attracted people and became a pilgrimage destination.
Let us accept the invitation of Pope Francis to cross the Holy Doors. Let us allow Jesus to transform us from hearts filled with sadness, loneliness, illness, selfishness and sin into a place where he can dwell, so that filled with His love, we can reach all those who are in the periphery of love and mercy, and become the gift that Jesus wants us to be. Through our love, He can transform hearts, so that others can live a real Christmas and His presence.
We pray that the world continues to be open to love, so that Jesus finds a place in our hearts where we are able to experience the grace and forgiveness of love.
Merry Christmas, and may this be a year of mercy for all.