By Linda Bordoni
Addressing a group of French pilgrims associated to the devotion of Divine Mercy, Pope Francis on Friday thanked them for their witness to the world of the joy of mercy.
Divine Mercy is a devotion to God’s infinite mercy that was promulgated by St. Faustina Kowalska in Poland, and later to the Universal Church by Pope St. John Paul II.
The pilgrims received in the Vatican belong to ecclesial associations, congregations and movements whose different charisms include closeness and assistance to the poor, to migrants, to the sick, to prisoners, to people with disabilities.
The Pope praised what he called their “beautiful diversity” that highlights the fact that “there is no human poverty that God does not want to reach, touch and help.”
The groups are in Rome on a pilgrimage taking them to different shrines dedicated to Divine Mercy, and the Pope expressed his appreciation for the fact that there are many in the Church in France who, with the support and encouragement of their pastors, proclaim the mercy of the Lord.
“Mercy is, in fact, the ultimate and supreme act with which God comes to meet us and which opens our hearts to the hope of being loved forever, whatever our poverty, whatever our sin,” he said.
The Pope said that God's love for us is not an abstract word, it is visible and tangible in Jesus Christ.
Jubilee of Mercy
Referring to the 2015 Bull of Indiction with which he called for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, he said “I hoped that, in the perspective of the new evangelization which the world so badly needs, ‘the theme of mercy’ would be proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action.”
“It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father,” he quoted.
Urging those present to continue to find ways to meet each other to pray and share, to share their difficulties and experiences, as well as their joys and thanksgiving, the Pope invited those present to keep this mercy of which they bear witness alive.
Apostles of Mercy
“May the sometimes very demanding and tiring fulfilment of your charitable activities never stifle the breath of tenderness and compassion with which they must be animated,” he said.
He reminded them never to look at a brother or sister with condescension, but with understanding, appreciation, respect and love, because he said, “one can only be authentic apostles of mercy if one is profoundly aware that one has been the object of mercy on the part of the Father”.
Contemplate the crib
Finally, in this time of preparation for Christmas, the Pope proposed the contemplation of the crib: “It is an invitation to feel, to touch the poverty that the Son of God chose for Himself in His Incarnation.”
Implicitly, he concluded, it is an appeal to follow Jesus on the path of humility which leads from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross: an appeal to meet and serve Him with mercy towards our most needy brothers and sisters.