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Bishop Burbidge's homily on 2016 Feast of Christ the King, closing of Jubilee Year of Mercy


Feast of Christ the King—Closing of Jubilee Year of Mercy
Saint Anthony Parish, Southern Pines
November 19, 2016

What a beautiful image we saw in Rome last year on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception as Pope Francis opened the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. He stood in prayerful silence at the Doors of Mercy at St. Peter’s. Then, he pushed them wide open and walked through them followed by Pope Benedict XVI, cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

In our diocese, four Doors of Mercy were designated: Sacred Heart Cathedral. the Basilica of Saint Mary in Wilmington, Our Lady of Mercy Church in Little Washington; and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Newton Grove. Just like in Rome, people in all vocations, the young and the aged, the strong and the weak, and those from various backgrounds and cultures walked through those doors. Why? Because only Mary was conceived without sin. We were not. We are in constant need of the Lord’s forgiveness.

Today, on this the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Jubilee Year of Mercy officially closes. Yet, what will never close are the doors to the infinite mercy of God, a precious gift that is always available to us. In that spirit, I encourage all of you, dear friends, to experience God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Penance before Christmas. There, we express our contrition and promise to begin anew and then hear the powerful words of absolution in which Christ Himself completely forgives us because no sin (no matter how great or frequent) is ever greater than the love of God.

As recipients of mercy, we express thanks to the Lord. What better way to do so than by dedicating ourselves to be instruments of His mercy and being merciful as the Father is merciful. Sure, it is not always easy to forgive those who have hurt or betrayed us. Yet, God would not ask us to do so unless we were capable. Ask for his grace and help.

In our desire to be instruments of mercy, we must do our part to build and sustain the Kingdom established by Christ and for which we pray in today’s Preface: a kingdom of truth, justice, love and peace. We can only do so if we if we live with Christ as our King. What does that require?

First, we must profess Jesus as Lord of Life—all of life—and celebrate and defend its sacredness and the dignity of each and every human person without exception.

It means we must teach and proclaim the Truth of His Gospel without compromise. We are well-aware of the unsettling times we live so often marked by division and not peace; hatred and not love. The Gospel is not the problem-----it is the answer! You can only encourage others to embrace it through the witness and example you offer, one that remains faithful to its mandate, no matter the cost.

If we claim Jesus as King, we must imitate his loving and service. How wonderful to see that today as so many people were fed a hearty Thanksgiving meal here at your parish. How wonderful to see the care for the poor and needy taking place every day in every corner of this diocese. Why? Because we know whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for the Lord Himself. Only then can we say the words in today’s Gospel: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom, and expect the response: Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Jubilee Year of Mercy closes today but the doors to God’s mercy are always wide open; a precious gift through which we experience forgiveness and healing; the help to live in unity with one another; and a power far greater than any darkness of this world.

May we rely on this power today, throughout the sacred Season of Advent and always so that, with God’s grace, we live together in His Kingdom: a Kingdom of truth, justice, love and peace both now and forever. Amen.