0016.b.shr.doorsAdvent Homily reflecting on the Central Shrine as a Holy Door of Mercy

As I listen to the reading of the favors granted through Mary and the Novena of Miraculous Conception I become more aware of the suffering and anxiety we face in our lives.

It is wonderful to hear the instances of those who have been granted relief from suffering and anxiety. But I am aware of those who still wait for the relief of chaos in their lives.

Our hearts can be in a state of pain for so many reasons

  • our own struggles with sin,
  • the deep hurt caused by a broken relationship with a family member,
  • the suffering of infertility,
  • the pain of a physical or mental illness,
  • the shock of losing a job,
  • the anguish of being betrayed or abandoned,
  • so many forms of spiritual or physical poverty,

Who of us is exempt from the various forms of chaos and suffering?

So we come here asking for relief… mercy.

What is mercy?

I recently read “Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” (1)

When we ask for God’s mercy, we are essentially asking God to relieve us of a heart that is in pain and chaos.

Take a moment to think of your own sufferings… Anyone can see the connection with the reasons we come here.

Sometimes we are relieved of our chaos by having the pain removed. Other times  the pain may not be removed but we find relief in knowing someone is there in the midst of our chaos.

I would like to use this thought to connect the mystery of the Incarnation, Advent and the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In Advent we become aware of our longing for relief, not just as individuals but all creation longing for God to enter into our chaos.

And what better symbol than that of a God who entered into the chaos of homelessness, the chaos of not being in control of one’s own destiny.

The mystery of the Incarnation is that God has been willing to enter into our chaos.

Pope Francis is keenly aware of how God entered into his own world of chaos as a teenager and his own need for continuing mercy and of the world’s need for mercy. So he has asked us to celebrate a special year of mercy.

So he uses the ancient symbolism of passing through a door.

On that day [the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception], the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope. (2)

The Shrine of the Miraculous Medal is a privileged place in our area. It has been designated as a door of Mercy through which God enters into our chaos.

This designation will become “effective” December 13. But it will merely be making more obvious what happens every Monday and indeed every day at this Shrine of Mary Immaculate.

When I think about mercy as “entering into the chaos of another”  I realize that I’ve experienced God’s mercy much more than I could ever count.

But more significantly I’ve also realized that I, in turn, am called to show mercy to others.

It begins by relieving the chaos of others by consoling, pardoning and instilling hope.

Let me suggest that we can prepare the way of the Lord by becoming doors of mercy through which others can find relief.

Consoles by making time for other

Have you ever been asked “got a minute?”

  • Do we allow others to cross our threshold?
  • Or, do we lock our doors and don’t get involved?

Pardons from our own hearts

  • Do we willingly offer absolution by pardoning in our hearts?
  • Or do we hold on to hurts?

 Instills hope rather than fear

  • How are we at avoiding negativity, anger?

This Holy Year of Mercy  is preparing the way of the Lord! This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!

God never tires of reaching out to us. He is always ready to listen. Are we always ready to enter into the chaos of another.

Today, the liturgy reminds us…

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it  until the day of Christ Jesus.

Let us prepare the way of the Lord  … and become a “door of mercy”


(1) Mike Jordan Laskey wrote in the National Catholic Reporter about Kerry Weber’s great book Mercy in the City, which he read a few months ago. “So I pulled it off the shelf and paged through the first few chapters, and there it was on page 12, where she quotes the Jesuit priest Fr. James F. Keenan. “Mercy,” he says, “is the willingness to enter into chaos of another.””



(2) Misericordiae Vultus, “The Face of Mercy” (11 April 2015).