Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed (Rom 13:11).

My Dear People of God,
May the Peace of the Lord, that surpasses all understanding, be with you.
Not long ago, we brought the Jubilee Year of Mercy to an end. We celebrated the closure of the Year of Mercy during our diocesan pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima Grotto at Nawuley. The serenity of the place added to our prayer and renewed in us the grace of Gods presence amongst us and in His creation.  All the pilgrims had the wonderful opportunity to walk through the Door of Mercy to request Gods unending mercy and also make a commitment to be merciful like the Father (Lk 6:36).

Even though the Holy Door of Mercy was officially closed with the Feast of Christ the King (20th November 2016), the door to Gods mercy never closes. Pope Francis puts it this way: God never tires of casting open the doors of his heart and of repeating that he loves us and wants to share his love with us  From the heart of the Trinity, the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. It is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people draw from it. Every time someone is in need, he or she can approach it, because the mercy of God never ends (Misericordiae Vultus # 25). At the closing of the Year of Mercy, the Holy Father signed an apostolic letter, Misericordia et Misera, imploring us to continue the celebration of Gods mercy.

It is precisely for the fact that Gods mercy is never consumed and his faithful love inexhaustible and are renewed every morning (Lam 3:22) that Holy Mother Church calls her faithful to be missionaries of mercy. Let the generous love of God that forgives us in Christ inspire us to a greater performance of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and continuously renew our commitment to be close to the poor, sick, aged, abandoned and needy in our everyday life. These are people who constantly remind us of the words of scripture, as long as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me (Mt 25:40).

The Season of Advent that marks the beginning of the Churchs liturgical year is here with us again. We carry into it the fruits of the Year of Mercy and renew our hope in the Lord who comes to save us. I invite you, my dear Christs faithful, to make this graceful season your own by using it gainfully to reflect on the Lord who comes in our lives and what we can do as individuals and as Church to make the world a better place. Let us use the Season of Advent profitably to allow Christ to re-enkindle in us His Light that shines in the darkness of our lives (cf. Jn 1:5).
The liturgical readings during the Advent Season are specially selected to help us enter into the heart of this graceful period so that we can benefit from its spiritual nourishment. Advent is a time of hope that requires from us conversion from a past characterised by negative attitudes of despair and lethargy and opens us to a future inspired by the Spirit that gives life. Celebrating Advent, therefore, is our opportunity to renew our hope in the salvation promised us by God. Make the celebration of Advent a moment of prayer and meditation to help us prepare to receive Christ who comes to us at Christmas.

Not long from today, we will go to the polls to elect leaders who will be given the task of managing the affairs of our dear country Ghana. This is a noble task that must be exercised freely, thoughtfully, diligently and, indeed, responsibly so that the Lord will give us leaders after His own heart. We owe this to each other as citizens, to future generations and to our motherland. As Christians, it is our duty to do everything to promote peace, justice and harmony in imitation of Christ the Prince of Peace.

I exhort you to desist from acts that breed violence, hatred and confusion. Let us pray that peace will prevail before, during and after the elections. However, my dear people of God, prayer is not just saying prayers. Prayers are not mere words. What we do or say must be consistent with what we pray for. Therefore, I entreat you to let your prayer for peace be seen in your very choices and comportment.

I wish you all a fruitful and grace-filled season of Advent. May this Season increase our eagerness and zeal to meet our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Given on November 21, 2016
Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

John Bonaventure Kwofie
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi

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