In Pope Francis’ new book, his first since his election to the Chair of Peter, the Pope explains why mercy has become the hallmark of his Papacy and how it provided the title of his book, The Name of God is Mercy.
Recalling the words of Pope Benedict, “Mercy” Pope Francis points out, “is in reality the core of the Gospel message; it is the name of God himself, the face with which he revealed himself in the Old Testament and fully in Jesus Christ, [the] incarnation of Creative and Redemptive Love. This love of mercy also illuminates the face of the Church, and is manifested through the Sacraments, in particular that of the Reconciliation, as well as in works of charity, both of community and individuals. Everything that the Church says and does shows that God has mercy for man.”
We as disciples, individually as Christians and collectively as Church, are instruments of God’s mercy in the world today. We are called, “to be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God, to be generous with others, knowing that God showers his goodness upon us with immense generosity.”
This is uniquely true In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where, “the apostles and all their successors—the bishops and their colleagues the priests—become instruments of the mercy of God.” They act “in persona Christi,” in the person of Christ, to mediate God’s forgiveness. “The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking him for forgiveness. We need to ask for the grace not to get tired of asking for forgiveness, because he never gets tired of forgiving.”
The Holy Father tells of a priest who once told him, “I forgive a lot and sometimes I have doubts, I wonder if I have forgiven too much? — We talked about mercy and I asked him what he did when he had those doubts.” This is what he said: “I go to our chapel and stand in front of the tabernacle and say to Jesus: ‘Lord, forgive me if I have forgiven too much. But you’re the one who gave me the bad example!’ ”
When Peter asked how many times he should forgive someone, Jesus said, not seven times but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22), or in other words, always.
The Holy Father’s book would be wonderful reading for Lent (and for always). It is readily available in bookstores and online in both book and eBook formats.
I will be writing more about it throughout the Lenten season.
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish