03/18/2020, 13.50
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Pope: God's mercy at the heart of Christian life

"There is no Christianity without mercy." Always invoke "Saint Joseph," especially in difficult moments and entrust your existence to this great Saint " and also that of those who are sick and those who assist the sick, people who risk their life".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Tomorrow, March 19, is the solemnity of St. Joseph, "always invoke him, especially in difficult times and entrust your existence to this great Saint" and also that of those who are sick and those who assist the sick , people who risk their lives.

In fact tomorrow evening, at 9 pm, the Pope has called on "every family, every believer, every religious community" to recite the Rosary. An invitation to prayer concluded today's general audience, another general audience without faithful, streamed from the private library, in the Apostolic Palace (pictured in Vatican News). St. Peter's Square and the Paul VI Hall empty.

In his meditation, continuing the cycle of catechesis on the Beatitudes, Francis spoke of the fifth: "“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5: 7). In this Beatitude there is a particularity: it is the only one in which the cause and the fruit of happiness coincide, mercy. Those who show mercy will find mercy, they will be accorded mercy.

This theme of the reciprocity of forgiveness is not present only in this Beatitude, but it is recurrent in the Gospel. And how could it be otherwise? Mercy is the very heart of God! Jesus says: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Lk 6: 37). Always the same reciprocity. And the Letter of James affirms that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (2: 13).

But it is above all in the Lord’s Prayer that we pray: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Mt 6: 12); and this question is the only one that is taken up again at the end: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt 6: 14-15; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2838).

There are two things that cannot be separated: forgiveness granted and forgiveness received. But many people find themselves difficulty, and are unable to forgive. Very often the harm suffered is so great that being able to forgive seems to be like scaling a very high mountain: an enormous effort, and one thinks, it can’t be done, it can’t be done. This fact of the reciprocity of mercy indicates that we need to turn the perspective around. By ourselves we are not able; it takes the grace of God, we must ask for it. Indeed, if the fifth Beatitude promises finding mercy and in the Lord’s Prayer we ask for the remission of sins, it means that we are essentially debtors and we need to find mercy!

We are all in debt. All of us. To God, Who is so generous, and to our brothers. Every person knows he is not the father or mother he or she should be, the husband or wife, the brother or sister. We are all “in deficit” in life. And we are in need of mercy. We know that we too have done wrong, there is always something good that is missing, that we should have done.

But it is precisely this poverty of ours that becomes the force for forgiveness! We are debtors and if, as we heard at the beginning, we will be judged with the measure with which we measure others (cf. Lk 6: 38), then it is best for us to extend the measure and remit debts, forgive. Every person should remember they need to forgive, they are in need of forgiveness, and they need patience; this is the secret of mercy: by forgiving, one is forgiven. Because God precedes us and He is the first to forgive us (cf. Rom 5: 8). Receiving His forgiveness, we in turn become capable of forgiving. Thus one’s own misery and one’s own lack of justice become an opportunity to open oneself up to the kingdom of heaven, to a greater measure, the measure of God, Who is mercy.

Where does our mercy come from? Jesus told us: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6: 36). The more one welcomes the love of the Father, the more one loves (cf. CCC, 2842). Mercy is not one dimension among others, but rather it is at the centre of Christian life: there is no Christianity without mercy. If all our Christianity does not lead us to mercy, we have taken the wrong path, because mercy is the only true destination of every spiritual journey. It is one of the most beautiful fruits of charity (cf. CCC, 1829).

I remember that this theme was chosen from the first Angelus that I had to say as Pope: mercy. And this has remained very much impressed on me, as a message that as Pope I should always have given, a message that must be given everyday: mercy. I remember that day I also had the somewhat “shameless” attitude of advertising a book on mercy, that had just been published by Cardinal Kasper. And that day I felt so strongly that this is the message I must give, as Bishop of Rome: mercy, mercy, please, forgive.

The mercy of God is our liberation and our happiness. We live on mercy and we cannot afford to be without mercy: it is the air we breathe. We are too poor to set conditions, we need to forgive, because we need to be forgiven.”

At the end of the audience, Francis recalled that "t“24 Hours for the Lord” will take place. It is an important Lenten appointment for prayer and to approach the sacrament of reconciliation. Unfortunately in Rome, Italy and other countries this initiative will not be able to take place in the usual forms because of the coronavirus emergency. However, in all other parts of the world, this beautiful tradition will continue. I encourage the faithful to approach God’s mercy in confession in a sincere manner and to pray especially for those who are sorely tried as a result of the pandemic Where it will not be possible to celebrate “24 Hours for the Lord”, I am sure that this penitential moment can be lived through personal prayer. "

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