Merciful like the Father
Merciful like the Father
Rome (Italy). “Jesus Christ is the Father’s face of mercy”. These are the first words that opened the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy which ended on November 20, 2016 with the closing of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s. Very meaningful are the dates of opening on December 8, 2015, on the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican Council II and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and that of its closing on the Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, that coincided with the end of the Liturgical Year.
In an era of full globalization, it was the greatest event of global holiness that humanity and the Church were able to live, beginning with the most dispersed and forgotten peripheries. Mercy, forgiveness, tenderness were the words that resounded most often during the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy: the first widespread Jubilee in history, celebrated by the will of Pope Francis, contemporaneously in Rome and in all the dioceses of the world. The logo of the Jubilee ‘the Good Shepherd carries humanity on His shoulders’ is a symbolic catechesis of this Holy Year that brought God’s love to the world.
If there is a golden thread that runs through the journey of the pontificate of Pope Francis, it is precisely mercy, the central theme of his reflections, of his discourses and documents. It is the key to a message that calls on everyone to come to terms with the image of a God who is too often labeled as a punisher, a vindictive king, and an impassive judge. Instead, the Pope tells us that He is “the merciful and compassionate Lord, slow to anger and rich in love” as we read in Psalm 145, a hymn to the power and providence of God. Mercy is, therefore, the compass, the common thread, the strongest message of the Lord that continues to accompany all the peoples of the World.
Mercy is the very name of God. It is that way of acting, that style “with which we seek to include others in our life, avoiding closing in on ourselves and in our egoistical certainties”. Inclusion is an aspect of mercy, explains the Pope, that “is shown by opening wide our arms without excluding , without classifying others on the basis of their social condition, language, race, culture, religion.”
It is a Jubilee marked by strong ecumenical events and inter-religious dialog, by World Youth Day as well as the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, icon of mercy who bent over every person she met. Unforgettable as well remains the time dedicated to priests and volunteers, families and young people. Francis wanted to speak to everyone, Christians and non-Christians, to put at the center of the Church the Christian proclamation of Mercy that does not judge but forgives. Mercy, in Hebrew “rahamim”, comes from ‘rehem’, the maternal womb. Therefore, it is a love capable of generating, just as Mercy generates. The Holy Door is closed, but not the merciful heart of God and our hearts.
The Doors of Mercy are closed in the whole world, while “under the merciful gaze of the Lord, history unfolds in its uncertain flow and in its intertwining of good and evil”, the Pope said at the Angelus of November 13, 2013. From the Jubilee, “Remain rooted in the Lord, walk in hope, work to build a better world”, in the certainty that resounds like a roadmap for today and tomorrow: notwithstanding everything, “God does not abandon His children”.