The mercy of God locates man in his moment of hopelessness and errors, and this mercy received ought to be shown to the most vulnerable of men.
To the glory of God, Pope Francis pronounced an extraordinary year of mercy. A year man seeks and finds the mercy of God and expiation of his sins. This jubilee year of mercy began on the 8th of December 2015, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and ended on November 20th, 2016, the solemnity of Christ the King.
Through the privilege granted by Most Rev. Dr. Calistus Onaga, the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, the door of mercy was officially opened in Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu on January 20th, 2016. This holy door has drawn quite a number of pilgrims who passed through it in faith, seeking for God’s mercy.
The Holy door of mercy was officially closed in Enugu Diocese on Sunday, 13th November 2016. Bigard Memorial Seminary joined the Local Church in Enugu in this great celebration as the door of mercy in Bigard was closed with the Holy Mass of the day.
The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa, and con-celebrated by other formators. Many visitors and indeed all Bigard Seminarians were in attendance as the Bigard chapel was filled to the brim.
The Rector invited all to the mass marking the end of the jubilee year in local churches, he then admonished all to faithfully embrace God’s mercy, and extend same to others. The Vice rector II, Rev. Fr. Dr. Miletus Ossai gave an inspiring homily, where he unveiled the sound theological implications of the Jubilee year and the holy door of mercy. In the homily he gave the theme; Thanksgiving, he praised God who continually lavishes his mercy to his children even when they do not deserve it. He thanked the Pope who pleaded to God to have mercy on the world, just as Abraham pleaded for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Mary, mother of Jesus pleaded to her son to provide more wine in the wedding at Cana. He also thanked the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Most Rev. Dr. Calistus Onaga, who deemed it fit to make Bigard one of the pilgrimage centers for the jubilee year of mercy in his diocese, by approving the door of the Seminary main chapel to serve as a holy door of mercy.
Fr. Ossai, bringing to fore the biblical import of the extraordinary jubilee year of mercy, asserted that the pope relied on the injunction of Christ in mtt 7:7 ‘ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you’ and thought it wise and crucial to pronounce the year of mercy, where mankind will ask and receive, seek and find, then knock and the door of God’s throne be opened unto them.
He also revealed the Pope’s intention for the Jubilee year of mercy, Fr. Ossai contends that the pope reminds us all that the greatest way to express our gratitude to God for his infinite mercy especially in the year of mercy, is to show same mercy to our neighbours, especially those who are in dare need of our mercy.
The homilist declared that it is not just enough bearing a name related to mercy, but it is more honourable living out that virtue, and always expressing it every moment of one’s life. Fr. Ossai moved further to ask “To whom shall mercy be shown?” He proclaimed that mercy should be shown to one who has wronged us, and is in dare need of our mercy. According to him also, mercy should be shown to one who speaks ill of us and treats us with contempt, following the examples of Christ who is our model and master.
Finally, he concluded that mercy should be shown to others when we put into effect the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Towards the end of the mass, the vice rector I, Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Igboanugo gave the vote of thanks. He thanked all who were present for the mass, especially those who contributed to the success of the day’s celebration. He, hence, expressed that the end of the jubilee year of mercy should not be seen as the end of mercy and introduction of the year of wickedness, rather it should be a call to live out the life of mercy, and extend God’s mercy to others. The Mass came to an end at about 9:30am.