(CNA) Showing and receiving God’s mercy are central aspects of Christian life – and everyone is in debt to God for the mercy he has already been shown, Pope Francis said during his general audience address Wednesday.
“Mercy is not one dimension among others, it is the center of Christian life: there is no Christianity without mercy,” he said March 18.
“If all our Christianity does not lead us to mercy, we have taken the wrong path,” he underlined, “because mercy is the only true goal of every spiritual journey. It is one of the most beautiful fruits of charity.”
He explained that “we are all debtors: to God, who is so generous, and to our brothers and sisters. We are all ‘in deficit’ in life. And we need mercy.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis is giving his weekly public audiences live via internet streaming from the library of the apostolic palace.
At the end of the audience Wednesday the pope recalled the March 19 celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph.
“In life, work, family, joy and pain he always sought and loved the Lord, deserving the praise of Scripture as a just and wise man,” he said. “Always invoke him with confidence, especially in difficult moments and entrust your existence to this great saint.”
In Italy, the bishops have called for a special day of prayer for St. Joseph’s feast day, inviting every family, every individual Catholic, and every religious community to pray the rosary at 9:00 pm, reflecting on the Luminous mysteries.
Pope Francis said he will join in praying the rosary from the Vatican.
“Mary, Mother of God, health of the sick, leads us to the luminous and transfigured face of Jesus Christ and to her Heart, to whom we turn with the prayer of the rosary, under the loving gaze of St. Joseph, Custodian of the Holy Family and of our families,” he said.
Let us ask St. Joseph, he encouraged, “to take special care of our family... especially the sick and the people who are taking care of the sick: the doctors, nurses, volunteers, who risk their lives in this service.”
Francis’ catechesis was a reflection on the fifth beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
“Mercy is the very heart of God!” he said, quoting Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke: “Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven.”
“Forgiveness given and forgiveness received” are two things which cannot be separated, the pope emphasized.
But, he noted, often the evil someone endures is so great, to forgive “seems like climbing a very high mountain.”
According to Francis, we should look at things from another perspective: We cannot do it alone, “it takes God’s grace, we must ask for it.”
“But precisely this poverty of ours becomes the force to forgive!” he added. “God precedes us and forgives us first. By receiving his forgiveness, we in turn become capable of forgiving.”
Pope Francis spoke about the importance the theme of mercy has had during his pontificate, recalling that his first Angelus address was about mercy.
“And this has remained very impressed on me as a message,” he said, “that I should always give as pope, a message that must be given every day: mercy.”