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Bishop Paul Sirba: Make Year of Mercy part of your New Year’s resolutions

Free. The Holy Family was free. Unencumbered by what normally shackles us, they were free to leave everything in order to fulfill the will of God.

Meditate on the moves they were asked to make. They left the normalcy of life in Nazareth to go and register in Bethlehem, because the government said so. There just long enough to encounter a difficult innkeeper or two, shepherds and Magi, and a whole host of angels, they had to pick up the few things they brought with them and go on a moment’s notice to Egypt.

Bishop Paul Sirba

Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

Despots and terrorists are nothing new. I wonder what they did with the gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Then they were asked to play the immigrant. No doubt a Jewish enclave still existed in Egypt after the Exodus, but they were foreigners in a strange land. That the Christ Child was safe for now is all that mattered. His time had not yet come. Deus vult: God wills.

The interior attitude of the Holy Family was faith, great faith. They believed in God’s Word. In spite of things moving in contrary motions, they trusted that the Lord’s words to them would be fulfilled.

We begin the year 2016 in the midst of uncertainties and challenges in our world and at home. We also begin the Jubilee Year of Mercy against the backdrop of the Joy of the Gospel. We have seen things lived out in the lives of the Holy Family in a way that provides hope for our own families, as well as the life of this local Church.

Pope Francis asks us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus during the Year of Mercy. “Open up the gates of justice,” proclaimed Pope Francis, as with five strong thrusts he pushed open the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Rediscovery time

The Pope called the Year an “extraordinary year of grace.” Our New Year’s resolution should include what he is asking of us, “to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father.” He said: “This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy.”

In passing through the Holy Door of our own beautiful cathedral, we should let go of what binds and burdens us, namely our sins, and live in the freedom of the Holy Family, as adopted sons and daughters of the Almighty. We should set aside fear and dread and complacency and “whatever” and feel ourselves part of the mystery of the love and tenderness of the God of mercy.

I pray God’s blessings upon all of you during the New Year. I ask your prayers for me in return. We entrust our lives and our cares to the ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Through her fruitful virginity, she bestowed on the human race the merciful grace of eternal salvation.

Happy New Year! A blessed Jubilee Year of Mercy!

Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.