01/13/2016, 00.00
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Pope: God is the very definition of "merciful"

Pope Francis began a new cycle of general audience catechesis on mercy in the biblical perspective. The term merciful "evokes an attitude of tenderness like that of a mother towards her child". An invitation to pray for the victims of the attack in Istanbul, for the victims and that the hearts of the violent be converted.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - God is merciful. He himself says so in the Bible, when he reveals Himself to Moses, evoking "an attitude of tenderness like that of a mother towards her child" said Pope Francis today as began a series of catechesis dedicated, in this Jubilee of Mercy, to the mercy of a God who describes Himself as "gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."

And at the end of the audience, the Pope also asked for prayers for the victims of the attack in Istanbul, that "the Lord, the Most Merciful, give eternal peace to the dead, comfort to the families, firmly unite all of society, and convert the hearts of the violent ".

Pope Francis walked among the eight thousand people present in the Paul VI, stopping to bless and greet them and even taking a baby in his arms.  He told them that "today we begin the catechesis on mercy in the biblical perspective, so as to learn about mercy by listening to what God teaches us through his Word. We begin with the Old Testament, that prepares us and leads us to the full revelation of Jesus Christ, in whom the Father's mercy is revealed. In Sacred Scripture, the Lord is presented as 'merciful God'. This is the name, through which He reveals Himself, so to speak, His face and His heart. He Himself, as told in the Book of Exodus, reveals Himself to Moses as follows: "The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness" (34.6). In other texts we find this formula, with some variations, but always the emphasis is placed on the mercy and love of God who never tires of forgiving (cf. Gen 4.2; Joel 2:13; Ps 86.15 ; 103.8; 145.8; Ne 9:17). Let us now look at the words of Sacred Scripture that speak of God one by one ."

"The Lord is 'merciful': this word evokes an attitude of tenderness like that of a mother towards her child. In fact, the Hebrew word used in the Bible suggests the bowels or even the womb. Therefore, the image suggests that of a God who is moved and melts for us as a mother when she gathers up her baby, wanting only to love, protect, help, ready to give everything, even all of herself. A love, therefore, which could be defined in a good way as 'visceral' '.

"Then it is written that the Lord is 'pitiful', meaning that he grants graces, is compassionate and, in His magnitude, bends over the weak and poor, always ready to welcome, to understand, to forgive. It's like the father in the parable as told by Luke (cf. Lk 15.11 to 32): a father who does not close in resentment at having been abandoned by his young child, but instead continues to wait for him, he created him, and then runs to him and embraces him, does not even let him finish his confession,  (as if he covers his mouth) so great is the love and joy to have him back; and then he goes to call the eldest son, who is angry and does not want to celebrate, the son who has remained at home living like a servant rather than a child, and the father bends over him, inviting him to enter it invites to enter, trying to open his heart to love, so that no one is excluded from the celebration of mercy".

"Of this merciful God it is also said that He is 'slow to anger', literally, 'of great breath', that is, with a wide-ranging patience and ability to endure. God knows how to wait, His times are not those of impatient men. He is like the wise farmer who waits, gives time to let the good seed grow, despite the weeds (cf. Mt 13,24-30). "

"And finally, the Lord proclaims Himself  'great in love and fidelity'. This is such a beautiful definition of God! It encapsulates it all. Because God is great and powerful, but this greatness and power unfold in His in loving us, we who are so small, so incapable. The word 'love', used here, indicates love, grace, goodness. It is not the love of soap opera. It is love that takes the first step, which does not depend on human merit but by an immense generosity. It is the divine solicitude that nothing can stop, not even sin, because He knows how to go beyond sin, overcome evil and forgive.
An unbounding faithfulness, the last word of God's revelation to Moses. God's fidelity never fails, because the Lord is the Guardian that, as the Psalm says, never falls asleep but continuously holds watch over us to bring us to life:
«He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;

 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.» (121,3-4.7-8)”.

"This merciful God is faithful in His mercy and Paul says a great thing: 'If you are not faithful to Him, He will remain faithful because He cannot repudiate himself'. Fidelity, mercy is the very being of God. God is totally and always reliable. A strong and stable presence. This is the certainty of our faith. So, in this Jubilee of Mercy, let us entrust ourselves totally to Him, and experience the joy of being loved by this God who is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness'.

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