The faithful stream through the Holy Door in St. Joseph's Basilica, blessed by Archbishop Richard Smith to commemorate the Year of Mercy.


The faithful stream through the Holy Door in St. Joseph's Basilica, blessed by Archbishop Richard Smith to commemorate the Year of Mercy.

December 21, 2015

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is a year-long opportunity to rejoice, Archbishop Richard Smith said while launching the archdiocesan celebration of God's merciful love.

The Edmonton archbishop opened a holy door and called on churchgoers to be people of mercy in a Dec. 13 Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica.

"In this Mass, let's pray for the grace to open wide the doors of our hearts to the gift of God's tender and merciful love, and the doors of love and compassion to our world."

Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee Year of Mercy Dec. 8 at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He asked bishops around the world to do the same.

Smith opened the Holy Door in the basilica before the beginning of the Mass.

Standing in front of the Holy Door located at the northeast corner of the basilica, the archbishop said, "Open the gates of justice, we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord."

As the door opened, Smith said, "This is the Lord's gate; let us enter through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness."

In his homily, Smith said faith in God's mercy and receiving this mercy has consequences for our lives.

He gave an example from the Gospel of the day. When the people were about to be baptized by John the Baptist, they asked what should they do. John told them to share their clothing and food; to not defraud and to not extort.

"In other words, you who would receive God's mercy must be merciful to others and act with justice," Smith stressed.

"With Christian Baptism, the imperative deepens. Christ is living his life in us. His mercy inhabits us. Therefore, there can be no space in our patterns of thought and behaviour for a lack of mercy in our relations with one another and with the world."

The archbishop said as we open the door to God's mercy given in Christ, we realize we must close any unholy doors and open holy passageways to spaces that are consistent with life in Christ.

"In fact, we can see many holy doors opening widely all around us," he said, citing the fact that many parishes are welcoming refugees from Syria.

"In recent years we have worked with our city and others in the province to open doors for the homeless to help them get a new start," he pointed out.

"I see in our schools, doors opened to children with developmental disabilities or struggling with family rupture in order to surround them with love and community. Our hospitals advocate mightily for doors to open across our country for quality palliative care, and our social service agencies seek out those who are otherwise forgotten to open for them the door to inclusion within a community of love.

"This is not mere humanism. It springs from the mercy we have received from God and is our response to the command of Jesus himself: 'Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.'"

That same command, Smith said, also means closing whatever unholy doors presently stand open in our lives, including doorways leading to anger and bitterness, to refusals to forgive, to cruelty and violence, to greed, to laziness, to envy, to licentiousness and to exploitation of others.

The archbishop also denounced the unholy door of assisted suicide and euthanasia, which is opening in Canada.

"This is a door of astonishing arrogance, fashioned on the presumption that we can judge the quality of another's life or determine on our own when life is no longer worth living," he said.

"It claims to be a door of mercy, when in fact it is one that opens onto a room with no floor, a vast abyss in which fundamental respect for the sanctity of human life falls away and the weak and vulnerable are left with no sure foothold.

"Even though the state may open this door, we must be clear that it should remain solidly closed and have nothing to do with it," Smith said.