Last April 11th, Pope Francis officially announced the opening of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which is to begin on December 8th, 2015. During this year, in the words of the pope, the entire Church is called to rediscover how ”Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life.”
Pope Francis received this call to mercy himself when he was nearly seventeen. One day he was on his way to meet up with his friends, when , on passing his parish church, he suddenly felt the need to go inside. Upon entering, he noticed a priest there that he did not know and felt an indescribable urge to have the priest hear his confession. Following the confession, he was overwhelmed by God’s mercy and tenderness. This feeling of love and mercy, combined with the powerful sense of God’s providence in bringing him to church and confession at this time, moved him deeply. It was then that he decided that he was called to the priesthood.
This definitive experience of mercy had a profound impact on Pope Francis, deeply influencing who he is. Mercy has become the theme of his entire papacy. It is his primary means for communicating the Gospel to others, not just because of his personal experience , but also because of his conviction that it is through mercy that God wishes to reach all people. As he stated in a homily on March 13th, 2013, “I think – and I say it with humility- that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.”
Below are some of Pope Francis’ messages about God’s mercy, drawn from his talks and homilies.
“This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love…Maybe someone among us here is thinking: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable; my unbelief is like that of Thomas. I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that He is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him.”
“Let us not forget this word: God never, ever tires of forgiving us!…The problem is that we ourselves tire; we do not want to ask; we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness. Let us never tire; let us never tire! He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn to be merciful to everyone. Let us invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man.”
Note: Fr Bob will be available for celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation from 3.30pm – 4.15pm each Saturday during Advent in the confessional, or by appointment. Also there will be a penitential service on Wednesday 16th December at 7pm with several priests available to hear confession.