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CLOSING OF THE HOLY DOOR OF MERCY: Remain open to God’s mercy, says Archbishop Costelloe


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe closes St Mary’s Cathedral Jubilee Holy Door of Mercy in accordance with instructions from Pope Francis that all Holy Doors be closed a week before the close of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Photo: Marco Ceccarelli

By Marco Ceccarelli

As this Holy Door closes, the sense of God’s mercy in our lives does not become closed off from us.

With these words of encouragement, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe closed St Mary’s Cathedral Jubilee Holy Door of Mercy on Sunday, 13 November, at the end of a Mass which brought into focus the most important aspects of the Jubilee Year.

Attended by more than 600 people, the Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Costelloe and concelebrated by Dean of the Cathedral, Monsignor Michael Keating, Assistant Priests Father Jeffey Casabuena, Fr Conor Steadman and Fr Brennan Sia (MC). The Archbishop was assisted by Deacon Bruce Talbot.

In his homily, the Archbishop reflected on the meaning of this extraordinary year by highlighting those areas where the Church has called its people to be more attentive.

The first of these was stated by Pope Francis in December 2015 when he said that “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.” The Archbishop explained that if our constant teaching as a Church is that we, who are the Church, are meant to be the living presence of Jesus in our world, we are then “called through our commitment to, and communion with Jesus, to be the face of the Father’s mercy in our own time and place.”

The Archbishop warned that the mystery of God’s mercy, forgiveness and compassion can be both deeply encouraging and very unsettling.

“If we don’t know personally how much we need the mercy of God in our own lives, I would suspect that it is because we don’t actually know ourselves very well. Pope Francis is famous for many things but one of them is his answer to the question put to him soon after he was elected: Pope Francis, who are you?

“His reply is in one way a standard Christian response to such a question but in another way a remarkable insight into Pope Francis’s own self-understanding. ‘I am’ he said, ‘a sinner upon whom God has looked with mercy’.” [sic]


In his homily, the Archbishop reflected on the meaning of this extraordinary year by highlighting those areas where the Church has called its people to be more attentive. Photo: Ron Ta

Archbishop Costelloe invited those present to dwell on their own answer to this question, underscoring that in the Gospel tradition, Jesus Christ only brings hope to those who recognise their own desperate need for the divine gift of mercy.

He concluded by unpacking his earlier statement of being the face of the Father’s mercy. The key to embracing this call, he explained, is to be found in the mercy we show others.

“This will require generosity of spirit, largeness of heart and constant compassionate patience. It will require us all to engage in what Pope Francis speaks about so often: the art of accompanying each other on our journey of faith,” Archbishop Costelloe said, before stressing the importance of being in communion with others.

“What the Lord asks of us is that we walk together, encouraging each other, helping each other to open our lives to the power of God’s grace, assisting each other to recognize the signs of God’s presence in our lives, and in all these ways strengthening each other so that, in God’s time, we will be able to take whatever steps we need to take to align our lives more and more to God’s divine plan for us.

“This is the gift the Year of Mercy has offered us. As we bring this year to a conclusion with the closing of the Holy Door we pray that this gift will continue to enrich us so that we, in our turn, can enrich the lives of others, especially those we love.”

The Holy Door at Saint Mary’s Cathedral was one of many throughout the world to be closed last Sunday, a week before Pope Francis officially ends the Jubilee Year of Mercy by closing the Holy Door at Saint Peter’s Basilica this Sunday, feast of Christ the King.