It was exactly at 10h00 when all the Roman Catholic Church of Queenstown Diocese gather together on Sunday the 13th December in the year of our Lord 2015. This special celebration started from outside unlike the normal celebrations. It seemed everyone was looking forward to this as most people were very early. After the whole congregation gathered started the procession of servers with the seminarians, deacons, priests and our Bishop. The Bishop greeted everyone in a usual way and introduced the celebration itself. In his address he mentioned that the whole world is doing the same opening the door of Mercy as the Holy Father has given us this special year to be that of Mercy. He invited everyone to take part in all the activities that will be done to show mercy starting within us and looking outside to see all the good works the Lords wants us to do. The special gospel from Luke 3:10-18 was read in both languages we use in the Diocese, that is, IsiXhosa and English. The Gospel itself is about John the Baptist’s preaching and the crowd asking him the big question, “what then should we do”? He answered this in many ways, we cannot exhaust the answers. This is a challenge to us as we begin this year of Mercy as the church because we need to ask ourselves as to what should we do to show mercy to one another. His Lordship challenged us to go and do good works that will show people that God is always there listening to their prayers. In his teaching he showed that ours is not to judge because there is only one supreme judge, but ours is to make Him proud by the good works we do in the world.
There was a message of the Holy Father about the Year of Mercy which was read by Fr. Thulani Gubula in English and IsiXhosa for everyone to understand. We then moved to the “Door”itself, what we noticed here was the slight difference from what we used to. The procession was led by incense with the cross like we always do but the Bishop was just there after the cross with all the clergy behind him and then the whole congregation. This on its own told us that something wonderful was happening not only in the church history but in us more especially. When we got to the main door of Christ the King Cathedral which was closed tightly, the bishop gave the instruction that as of Sunday the 13th December 2015 to the 20th November 2016 the main door of the Cathedral will only be used as a Holy Door. The Cathedral community was asked to use only the side doors for their celebrations and when they decide to take the pilgrimage of Mercy then they will use the main door which is a Holy Door. He also mentioned that all districts of the diocese should organize themselves and communicate with the administrator of the cathedral to have their pilgrimages and enter through the Holy Door to get all the blessings we need in our lives.
He blessed the door using holy water and incense. He ceremoniously opened the Holy Door and asked everyone to enter through it and not other doors. He ordered that it shall only be used for special occasions, that is, when people go there as pilgrims and not on normal Sundays or weekdays. Inside the church mass continued in a usual way with the reading of the 3rd Sunday of Advent. In his homily, the Bishop, mentioned that our joy should be in the Lord. He did not run away from the fact that even when we are in God and with God things that we see as ungodly will always happen. He asked us not to backslide when such happen but be even stronger in God through the faith we have. He said the Kingdom of God is a sign of the joy we have in the Lord, “Rejoice in the Lord, I say rejoice”. All what God wants of us is to be joyful. We can achieve this even by entering through the gate, the Holy Door, which will give us inner peace. He mentioned also that our God is a merciful one, who forgives our sins and wants us to be holy as he is holy. The Lord of Host is with us, God of Jacob is our stronghold, so we should try to be holy and blameless before him so as to achieve the inner peace which we all need. May the good Lord be with us throughout the Year of Mercy!!!