Have you noticed the tenor of the gospel readings recently? This past Sunday, we heard of God’s deep love and great mercy (Luke 18:9-14), in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both entered the temple area to pray. One, haughty and self-righteous, lists all that he does to keep the law. The other, hesitant, stands in the distant shadows; he doesn’t even begin to list all he’s done wrong, only asks the Lord for His mercy.
The theme of mercy continues this Sunday, also from Luke’s gospel, with the story of Zacchaeus. As Jesus speaks to Zacchaeus, the man is transformed. He repents, and receives forgiveness out of the Lord’s great mercy.
One priest in a parish I visited this past Sunday reminded all that we have access to God’s mercy and forgiveness for the asking, and we have the wonderful, cleansing, freeing sacrament of reconciliation.
Remember the canned chili commercial? “Neighbor, when was the last time you had a big bowl of X-brand chili? Well, that’s too long!”
The priest’s message took a similar tone.
“When was the last time you went to reconciliation? If it was at Easter, then it’s been too long!” he said.
Pope Francis, knowing the pain and sorrow the sins of this world bring us, declared this year as an extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. A whole year to celebrate God’s mercy!
It lasts until Sunday, Nov. 20, the feast of Christ the King.
To enhance our experience of mercy, Holy Doors have been opened around the world, including our archdiocese. What is a Holy Door?
According to an article in Today’s Catholic, this is an ancient symbol of Christ: “I am the gate [door]. Whoever enters through me will be saved...” (John 10:9). “When one crosses the threshold, it signifies the passage from sin to grace and from slavery to freedom. ... parishes will be pilgrimage sites, opening their doors in hopes that all who enter will encounter Christ. ... The Holy Doors will be Doors of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope” (Today’s Catholic).
“Do not forget that God forgives all and God forgives always,” Pope Francis said. “Let us never tire of asking forgiveness.”
Experience a refreshing shower of soul-cleansing through the sacrament of reconciliation. And if you can, enjoy an encounter with Christ by a visit to -- and through -- a Holy Door. They are open to everyone. There are 15 in the archdiocese, including Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Panna Maria, San Fernando Cathedral and Mission San Jose in San Antonio, and St. Andrew’s in Pleasanton.