Make a daily commitment to spreading God’s mercy, Pope Francis says
by Elise Harris. (In the pic: Pope Francis greets pilgrims during his general audience Jan. 13, 2016. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA.
Vatican City, Feb 20, 2016 / 04:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis held his second Saturday general audience of the Jubilee, encouraging pilgrims to make a daily commitment to spreading God’s mercy both in the small things, and to those most in need.
“My life, my attitude, my way of living, must truly be a concrete sign that God is close to us,” the Pope said Feb. 20.
He explained that this is done through “small gestures of love, tenderness and care” which show that “the Lord is with us, that he's close to us. And this is how the door of mercy opens.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his second Saturday general audience for the Holy Year of Mercy.
In addition to his weekly Wednesday general audiences, the Pope chose to hold an extra one once a month on a Saturday as a special initiative for the Jubilee. In his address, Francis continued his reflections on the topic of mercy as understood through scripture, this week focusing on God’s commitment to humanity in sending Jesus.
He said that committing oneself to something means to “assume a responsibility, a task toward someone; and it also means the style, the attitude of fidelity and dedication, of special attention with which we carry forward this task.”
Each day we are asked to commit ourselves in the simple things we do, such as prayer, work and study, as well as in sports or free time, he said. “To commit ourselves, then, means to put our good will and our efforts to improve life,” Francis said, noting that God is also committed to us.
God’s first commitment to humanity was when he created the world and dedicated himself to keeping it alive “despite our efforts to ruin it – and there are many.” But God’s greatest commitment, he said, was when he gave us Jesus.
“Jesus is truly the extreme commitment that God has made toward us…this is the greatest commitment of God,” he said, adding that along with Jesus, “the Father will give us everything we need.”
Seeing this commitment in action is easy if we read the Gospel, which tells us how through Jesus, God totally committed himself to restoring hope to the poor and those deprived of their dignity, as well as to strangers, the sick, prisoners and sinners, he said.
“In all of this, Jesus was a living expression of the mercy of the Father,” the Pope continued. In off-the-cuff remarks, he underlined Jesus’ merciful attitude in his unconditional welcome of sinners with goodness.
When seen in a human way, the sinner seems like God’s enemy, he said, but noted that despite this, Jesus still “drew close to them with goodness, he loved them and he changed their hearts.”All of us are sinners who have some sort of guilt before God, Francis said, yet the Lord still chooses to be near us in order to give us comfort, love and mercy.
“This is the commitment of God! And because of this he sent Jesus!” he said. “To draw close to us, to all of us, and to open to us the door of his love, his heart, his mercy. And this is very beautiful, very beautiful!”
Pope Francis concluded saying that in response to God’s commitment to us, we in turn must commit ourselves to spreading his love, mercy and goodness, beginning with those most in need.
He pointed to those who suffer due to abandonment, illness, a serious disability as well as those who are dying or who cannot express their gratitude.
“In all of these realities we bring the mercy of God through a life commitment, which is the testimony of our faith in Christ,” he said, and told pilgrims to always bring God’s caress to others, “because God has caressed us like this with his mercy.”
“Bring it to others, to those in need, to those who suffer in their hearts, or who are sad. Draw near to them with that caress of God, which is the same that he had with us,” he said.
He closed by praying that the Jubilee would help to open our minds and hearts so that we can “touch with our hands” the commitment God has for each person, and that our lives would be transformed “into a commitment of mercy for all.”