Vatican City, 13 December 2015 (VIS) – On the third Sunday of Advent the Pope opened the third Holy Door of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Following the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Bangui in the Central African Republic on 29 November and that of St. Peter's Basilica on 8 December, today he opened the Holy Door of the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. On “Gaudete Sunday”, the Sunday of Joy, Francis reaffirmed that the reason for this joy is expressed in the readings with words infused with hope and which allow us to look to the future with serenity, as “the Lord has annulled every condemnation and chose to live among us”.
This third Sunday of Advent draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now close, said the Pope in his homily. “We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though there may be good reason, with our many concerns and the many forms of violence that harm our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy”.
The Pope cites the first reading of the prophet Zephaniah, who taught that “in a historical context of great abuse and violence, especially by men of power, God knows that He will reign over his people, who would never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and will free them from all anxiety. Today, we are asked not to let our 'hands grow weak' because of doubt, impatience or suffering. St. Paul returns to the teaching of Zephaniah and reiterates: 'The Lord is near'. Because of this we should rejoice always, and with our affability give all witness of closeness and care that God has for each person”.
“We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything done with the tenderness of the Father. We too are like the crowds who asked John, 'What do we do?'. The Baptist's response was immediate. He invites us to act justly and to attend to the needs of those in need. What John demands of his representatives is already in the law. We, however, are prompted toward a more radical commitment. Before the Holy Door we are called to pass through, we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this. He who is baptised knows he has a greater commitment. Faith in Christ leads to a journey that lasts a lifetime: to be merciful, like the Father. The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and bear witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries. For this infinite love, in spite of our contradictions, we are responsible”.
“Let us pray for us and for all those who pass through the Door of Mercy, that we may understand and welcome the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, that recreates, transforms and reforms life”, said the Pope at the end of his homily.
Cardinal James M. Harvey, archpriest of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, also opened the Holy Door of the Basilica today, while throughout the rest of the world, as the Pope had requested, all the Holy Doors of churches and cathedrals were opened for the Year of Mercy.