October 18, 2016
Editor’s Note: The following conversation originally aired Sept. 29 during the annual RadioThon on St. Valentine Catholic Radio, 1360AM, KDJW.
The West Texas Catholic: Bishop Zurek, we are nearing the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy. Some observations please…
Bishop Patrick J. Zurek: You remember the narratives around Christ the Good Shepherd. In one area Jesus says “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and mine know me.” In another He says (which sounds a little odd maybe) “I am the sheep-gate.” This sounds silly until we realize Jesus also said, “No one comes to the Father except through
Me.” This means that Jesus is the Door through which we go to meet the Father and when we do that we will make our residence with God, live with Him and within Him. That’s what the Holy Door of the Year of Mercy is symbolic of—the Holy Door is Christ, the way to the Father.
I don’t know how many people have gone to St. Mary’s Cathedral and gone through the Holy Door. I want to encourage you all, if you have not already done so to do that. It is an incredibly spiritual moment. Yes, it is symbolic, but symbolic of something very deep. It is symbolic of us coming to Christ and being received by the Father. You may say that it seems so simple and so easy, why should I bother. Why bother? Because of the gift that is given. Let’s go back to a story in 2 Kings, Chapter 5 at the very beginning. There is an army commander of the King of Aram, Naaman, and he’s a leper. His wife has a new servant girl who is helping her with her daily duties. The servant asks the woman why she doesn’t have her husband go to the prophet in Samaria. “His name is Elisha; Elisha will
help you. When he cleanses you, you will know there is a prophet in Israel.”
Naaman eventually goes, taking a large group with him. He first visits the king of Iram and then goes to see the prophet Elisha. Elisha simply told Naaman to go and wash himself in the River Jordan—go in it and come out seven times. “Then you will be cleansed.” Naaman was insulted. He thought it was too easy and the river was just a dippy little river. “Are not the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel?” The servant was wise and told him that that might be the case. She reasoned with him and said: “If the prophet told you to do something that was extraordinary, would you not do it? All the more, since he told you to wash and be clean” you ought to do it. Are you testing God?” Naaman swallowed his pride, ate a little humble pie and dipped into the river seven times and came out seven times. Scripture says that his flesh became like the flesh of a little child “and he was clean.”
“It’s just going through a door, Bishop!” Symbolically and physically it is just going through a door. Spiritually it is going to Jesus and through Him being presented to the Father. I want to encourage everyone to take advantage of this. There’s something more to it. You go through the door with a special intention—
I want to change. What is the change? “I want to be more like Jesus Christ. I know the teachings of the Church; I know what Jesus gave us. I know the traditions of the Church. I know what Jesus gave us. But that is not enough. I want to be transformed to be the presence of Jesus to others.” It is an interior conversion.
As you go through the door and into the church, pray. Pray first for our Holy Father, Pope Francis; pray for his health and for his courage to continue the renewal the Church, to make it more love-and mercy-centered. Pray for his stamina that he may continue to do his best to help us see Christ more clearly. Pray that we truly proclaim the Word of God with our lips and with our actions. Don’t worry about being politically correct; but don’t offend anyone either. Stand up for what you believe. Jesus did say, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Pray also for the pope’s intentions. In going through the door, a couple more things are required: to recite the creed, either the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed we say on Sunday; go to Confession and receive Communion. Then you will receive an incredible grace, the grace of an indulgence.
I’d like to explain it this way. Think of this special grace as God’s indulgent love, magnanimously being poured over you and within you. Love and grace come upon you, cleansing you, purifying you. God is embracing you and being merciful. God wants to show that He loves us anyway, no matter how we think of ourselves or how others do. That is the indulgent love that is purifying and which draws us into the inter-life of the Trinity—into pure light and into pure love. Yes, it is just a door. Yes, the Jordan River was a simple muddy stream. But, Naaman was made clean by doing a simple act. Would you like to have that all enveloping loving presence of God throw his arms around you so you can experience Jesus in the most intimate way ever possible on this earth? Come to the Door, go through the Door, say your prayers and be made new!