Sunday 20th November 2016 was the day the Roman Catholic Church worldwide marked the close of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. This extraordinary jubilee set it apart from other ordinary jubilees or holy years -called by the Pope once every 25 years- during which a particular theme or event is emphasized. During this particular Jubilee, the Holy Father directed our attention and actions on the theme of MERCY, so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s actions in our lives… Be merciful like the Father. This was only the third Extraordinary Jubilee since the tradition began 700 years ago.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy commenced when the Holy Father Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica on December 8th 2015, and on December 13th all the Holy Doors in Cathedrals and designated churches throughout the world opened to pilgrims. The doors were opened across the world -some for the first time- so that people everywhere could pass thorough them and gain a plenary indulgence (the complete remission of all temporal punishment due to sin). Those entering or passing through the Holy Door of Mercy will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope.
At Nairobi’s Resurrection Gardens, one of the churches in Nairobi that have the Holy Door of Mercy, the mass to close both the Year and the Door of Mercy was presided over by Fr. Stephen Omondi- Parish Priest of Regina Caeli, Karen and assisted by Fr. Ritho Mwaniki – director of Resurrection Gardens, together with three other priests from Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The liturgy was led by St. John Karinde Choir. During his homily, Fr. Omondi reminded the faithful to continue carrying out the works of mercy, both the corporal works: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned and the sick, shelter the homeless and to bury the dead; as well as the spiritual works: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, gentleness, comfort the afflicted and to pray for the living and the dead. He emphasized that though the door of mercy was closed, the mercies of God remain forever.
Speaking at the Resurrection Gardens, the faithful said that they were very excited to be participating in such a mass -an extraordinary jubilee- that only takes place once every 25 years. “I am very glad to have participated in this mass, for I don’t know if I will be around when this Holy Door of Mercy is opened next. But God is merciful.” said one 75 year old man who attended the mass. Another young lady who usually attends mass at St. John Karinde said that she had attended the mass at the Gardens when the Holy Door of Mercy was opened and was privileged to also attend the closing mass. She said she had seen an increase in charitable activities by different groups within the church during this Year of Mercy.
Indeed, the Jubilee of Mercy served as a reminder of God’s providence and mercy. As a people of God, ruled by the One true King who holds all things together, let us continue in the same spirit of mercy, forgiveness and solidarity.
Compiled by Catherine Muteithia