Earlier this evening, the Closing Mass for the Jubilee of Mercy took place at Sacred Heart Church in Bellshill, Scotland. This brought to a conclusion the various events which have taken place in the churches of Sacred Heart and St Gerard’s over the course of this astonishing Jubilee.

As at the Opening Mass for the Jubilee Year last December, the preacher was Fr Bobby Kane, one of the Missionaries of Mercy designated by our Holy Father, Pope Francis. The Mass was celebrated by Parish Priest Fr McGoldrick. At this final Mass of the Jubilee Year tonight, both Priests were again present, bringing us full circle.

Fr Kane preached twice during the Mass. At the Homily, he spoke about the Gospel of Luke – so often referred to as ‘the Gospel of Mercy’ – and he noted how all the way through, there is a focus on ‘the one that was lost and found’; the one lost sheep, the one lost drachma. He commented on the joy that comes from finding this one that was lost – and added that this joy should be the joy shared by Priests in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for it is here that ‘the one that was lost is found’.

He ended by saying that that this idea of the ‘one that was lost and found’ culminates on Calvary; there, we find the only occasion on which the Lord, dying upon the Cross, gives a promise of salvation to a person; He tells the so-called Good Thief (who, before then, had been anything but ‘good’) that “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise”.

Fr Kane reminded us that were even one soul ‘found’, then the Passion and Death of Christ was worthwhile; while He died for all, He also died for every single one of us individually.

Later, at the conclusion of the Mass, Fr Kane spoke again – this time, looking at Our Lady as ‘Mother of Mercy’. He said that Her cloak is held wide open, and that it encompasses all – all of us find shelter beneath it.

He added that the final image of Mary in the Gospel of Luke is not at the foot of the Cross – this image comes from the Gospel of St John – but rather, it is in the Cenacle with the Apostles, at Pentecost. The image of Mary sheltering all beneath Her motherly mantle was vivid again in this recollection. He reminded us that the power of the Mother of Mercy is immense; that She was present for the physical birth of the Lord, and also for the spiritual birth of the Church. To emphasise this maternal and protective role of Mary, he covered the entire congregation with a vast mantle, representing that of the Mother of Mercy, and suggested that anyone going to Confession shelter themselves in this mantle afterward and think about the meaning of this. It was a very vivid and powerful image – and, like that of the ‘Cloak of Mercy’ of which Fr Kane preached at the Opening Mass last year, one which will not be quickly forgotten by those who listened to him.

As the Jubilee Year draws now to it’s close, may each and every one of us be mindful of this Sacrifice of Christ for all, but also for each of us individually, and hope that one day we, too, will hear the promise of the Lord given to the Good Thief on Calvary, that we will be with Him in Paradise. And until then, may every one of us fly beneath the sure refuge of the mantle of the Mother of Mercy.

Thanks to Fr McGoldrick and to Fr Kane for a beautiful Concluding Mass.