HONG KONG (SE): “Here on earth time passes, but God is eternal and likewise his mercy is everlasting,” John Cardinal Tong Hon said at a Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of November 13 to mark the closing of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
The year, which began on December 12 last year with an imposing ceremony at the cathedral in which Cardinal Tong opened the Holy Door, ended not with the closing of the door, but an invitation to the people to go out into the world and spread mercy in society.
The cardinal explained that the door may never be closed, because “as the home of everybody, the Church door is the door to heaven. So let us keep the door of the Church wide open, so that those in need can seek refuge in her, receive a warm welcome and be looked after by our heavenly Father of Mercy.”
He called it a reminder not to idly fritter away our days, but to carry on the mission of Jesus, who came to “feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless, counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners and promote peace and harmony in society.”
Cardinal Tong called for a balanced view on the world, not spending all our energy on seeking comfort and security, “because the day will come when there will not be a stone left upon another stone.”
He stressed the balance must be found in a counter-cultural witness to a world that places financial interests at the top of the priority list to the exclusion of the poor and the needy.
Cardinal Tong described the vocation of the people of God in the world in terms of the Year of Mercy, which placed great stress on the everlasting call to care for the poor and needy, promote social justice, resolve human conflicts and strengthen married and family life.
“(Then) every one of us can experience harmony and joy at home and enrich ourselves in body, mind and spirit,” the cardinal said.
He added that since this must be anchored in the love and mercy of God, it has been decided to continue this spirit of mercy in the diocese in the form of a Year of our attentive care for marriage, the family and human life, and study and practice the teaching of The Joy of Love, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis.
The Extraordinary Year of Mercy came to an end as the deacons incensed the open door of the cathedral, allowing the aroma of the celebration to waft into the city air, as a sign that the Year of Mercy may be over, but will live on in the spirit of the inscription at the cathedral door, The Home of the Church, the Gateway to Heaven.