Blog di FORMAZIONE PERMANENTE MISSIONARIA – Uno sguardo missionario sulla Vita, il Mondo e la Chiesa MISSIONARY ONGOING FORMATION – A missionary look on the life of the world and the church
Addressing faithful in St. Peter’s Square at a Saturday evening prayer vigil for the Jubilee of Divine Mercy — 11 years to the day after the death of St. John Paul II — the pope announced his wish that, in every diocese, “a hospital, a home for the elderly or abandoned children, a school …, a home for recovering addicts” or some similar structure be established as “a living reminder” of the Year of Mercy.
The Pope said the idea came to him recently during a meeting with directors of a charitable association. But he thought to himself: “I’ll say it in the square on Saturday.”
“So many things are possible,” he said. “It would be lovely if every diocese were to think: What can I leave as a living reminder, as a living work of mercy, as a wound of the living Jesus for this Year of Mercy? Let’s think about it and we’ll talk about it with the bishops.”
The surprise announcement came after Pope Francis told pilgrims at the prayer vigil that “a faith incapable of being merciful, as the Lord’s wounds are a sign of mercy, isn’t faith: it’s an idea, an ideology.” In Jesus, he said, “we are able not only to touch the mercy of God with our hands, but we are inspired to become instruments of his mercy.”
“Faith incapable of entering into the Lord’s wounds isn’t faith!” he continued in impassioned and unscripted remarks. “Our faith is incarnate in a God who became flesh, who was made sin (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21), who was wounded for us. But if we want to believe seriously, and have faith, we have to approach and touch that wound, caress that wound, and also lower our heads and allow others to caress our wounds.”
The Divine Mercy prayer vigil also featured readings from Scripture, sacred music, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Dear brothers and Sisters,
Good evening! With joy and thanksgiving we come together to share this time of prayer that begins Mercy Sunday. It is a liturgical feast which Saint John Paul II ardently desired, and a response to the request of Sister Faustina. The testimonies offered – for which we are grateful – and the readings we have just heard provide us the light and hope needed to enter the great ocean of God’s mercy. How many are the expressions of mercy with which God encounters us? They are numerous and it is impossible to describe them all, for the mercy of God continually increases. God never tires of showing us mercy and we should never take for granted the opportunity to receive, seek and desire this mercy. It is something always new, which inspires awe and wonder as we see God’s immense creativity in the ways he comes to meet us.
God has revealed himself, on many occasions, through his name which is “mercy” (cf. Ex 34:6). How great and infinite is the nature of God, so great and infinite his mercy, to the point that it is greatly challenging to describe it in all its entirety. Through Sacred Scriptures, we find that mercy is above all the closeness of God to his people. It is a closeness expressed essentially through help and protection. It is the closeness of a father or mother reflected in the beautiful words of the prophet Isaiah: “I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (11:4). This image is extremely evocative: God picks each one of us up and holds us to his cheek. How much tenderness and love is expressed here! I had these words of the prophet in mind when I saw the image for the Jubilee. Jesus not only carries humanity on his shoulders, but his face is so closely joined to Adam’s face that it gives the impression they are one.
We do not have a God who is incapable of understanding and sharing our weaknesses (cf. Heb 4:15). Quite the contrary! Precisely because of his mercy God became one of us: “For by his incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). In Jesus, therefore, we are able not only to touch the mercy of God with our hands, but we are inspired to become instruments of his mercy. It is easy to speak of mercy, yet more difficult to become its witness. This is a path that is lifelong and which should not be interrupted. Jesus has said to us that we must be “merciful as the Father” (cf. Lk 6:36). And this takes a lifetime!
How many expressions there are, therefore, of God’s mercy! This mercy comes to us as closeness and tenderness, and because of this, comes also as compassion and solidarity, as consolation and forgiveness. The more we receive, the more we are called to share it with others; it cannot be kept hidden or kept only for ourselves. It is something which burns within our hearts, driving us to love, thus recognizing the face of Jesus Christ, above all in those who are most distant, weak, alone, confused and marginalized. Mercy seeks out the lost sheep, and when one is found, a contagious joy overflows. Mercy knows how to look into the eyes of every person; each one is precious, for each one is unique. How painful it is when we hear it said: “These people… these people, these poor people, let’s throw them out, let’s let them sleep on the street…” Is this of Jesus?
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