During today’s general audience, the Pope has held his catechism on the meaning of the Holy Year of Mercy which started yesterday with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. “Yesterday – Francis has begun – I opened here, in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy, after having opened it already in the Cathedral in Bangui, Central Africa. Today I would like to reflect with you on the meaning of this Holy Year, answering the question: why a Jubilee of mercy? What does it mean?”
“The Church”, he has explained, needs this extraordinary moment” because, in changing times such as the present, the Bride of Christ is called to offer its contribution by making visible the signs of God’s presence: “The Jubilee is a favorable time for all of us, because in contemplating Divine Mercy, which exceeds all human limits and shines over the darkness of sin, we become more convinced and effective witnesses”.
Looking at God, the merciful Father, and consequently at our brothers and sisters in need, means looking at the essential content of the Gospel: Jesus, “Mercy made flesh”, which makes visible to our eyes the great mystery of God’s Trinitarian love. A “Holy Year” to live the mercy of God in the first person: “This Holy Year is offered to us to experience in our lives the sweet and gentle touch of God’s forgiveness”. A privileged moment for the Church to learn to choose only “what God likes more: to forgive His children, have mercy on them, so that they can forgive their brothers in their turn, shining like torches of God’s mercy in the world”.
On forgiveness, the Pope has added: “In a book on theology, St. Ambrose takes the story of the world’s creation and tells us that every day, after having created one thing – the moon, the sun or animals – God says: ‘And I saw that this was good’. But when He created man and woman, the Bible says: ‘I saw that this was very good’. St. Ambrose asks himself: ‘But why does He say very good?’ Why is God so happy after He has created man and woman? Because finally there was someone he could forgive”.
Also the current renewal of the secular Church structures will be vain without mercy, the Holy Father warns, because “we would be slaves of our institutions and structures, no matter how renovated they will be”. Besides, mercy can truly contribute to building a more humane world, especially “in our times, when forgiveness is a rare guest in the areas of human life”. Although there are urgent needs, it is necessary to take into account that, at the root of the current ‘oblivion of mercy”, according to Francis, there is ‘always self-love” which in the world, “takes the shape of exclusive pursuit of one’s own interests, pleasures and honors, along with desire to accumulate wealth, while in the life of Christians those things are often disguised by hypocrisy and worldliness”. All these things are contrary to mercy, he continues: “The motions of self-love, that make mercy foreign to the world, are so many that often we are no longer able to recognize them as limits and as sin. This is why it is necessary to recognize that we are sinners, in order to strengthen in us the certainty of divine mercy”.
Then he has added: “Lord, I am a sinner… It is a prayer easy to say everyday: ‘Lord, I am a sinner, come with Your mercy’. Then he has concluded: “Dear brothers and sisters, I hope that, this Holy Year, each one of us will experience the mercy of God in order to be witnesses of ‘what pleases Him the most. Is it naive to believe that this can change the world? Yes, humanly speaking it is foolish, but what is foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men”. Thank You”.