By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis on Thursday met with Mercedarian Fathers, (members of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy) who are celebrating 800 years since the foundation of their order. The order was founded in 1218 for the redemption of Christian captives.
The Pope addressed the Fathers, saying that first of all he wished to “put before your eyes that first love which you express with the vow of redemption”. The Pope reminds the Fathers that “following Christ means giving life in order to save souls.”, going on to say that “we all know the importance of following Christ” although, he says, at times “rather than follow Him we approach our lives as though He were the one who has to follow us.” The Pope explains that following Jesus is not a question of methodology, but of letting “Him precede us and set the pace for personal and community walks.”
Those who follow Christ, the Pope continues, do so by giving life. This, the Pope says, “puts us before the central truth of our religious consecration”.
The Pope goes on to say that “Trusting in the Lord means to surrender ourselves to Him without reserve”, explaining that “the surrender of one's life is not optional, but is the consequence of a heart that has been ‘touched’ by the love of God.”
Do not be tempted
“Please”, the Pope continues, “I ask you not to allow yourselves to be dragged along by the temptation to regard your sacrifice and your dedication as an investment for personal gain.” Instead, he urges the Fathers to strive to render their oblation and consecration to the service of God and men, a reality by “living the joy of the Gospel, the charism of redemption”.
“Today” continues the Pope, “as in other eras of history, the Christian is threatened by this triple enemy: the world, the devil and the flesh”. Though they are often camouflaged, their consequences are evident; they “numb the consciousness and cause a spiritual paralysis that leads to inner death” says the Pope.
Be bearers of redemption
Pope Francis goes on to tell the Mercedarian Fathers that “as members of a redeeming order”, they “must first experience in [them]selves the redemption of Christ to help [their] brethren discover the God who saves”, and invites them to continue to be “bearers of the Lord's redemption to prisoners, refugees and migrants, to those who fall into the trap of human trafficking, to vulnerable adults, to orphaned and exploited children... Bring God's tenderness and mercy to all who are discarded by society.”
Finally, the Pope urges them “never to grow tired of being instruments of freedom, of joy and of hope.”