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Pope Francis during his General Audience Pope Francis during his General Audience  (AFP or licensors)

Pope at Audience: Make mercy the air you breathe

During his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis re-calls “Mercy” as the first theme he chose to discuss as Pope, adding that as the new Bishop of Rome, he felt its message had to be transmitted.

By Francesca Merlo

The fifth beatitude, began Pope Francis, is different than the others: it is the only one “in which the cause and effect of happiness coincide”. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”, he read. Those who exercise mercy, explained the Pope, “will be shown mercy”.

The theme of reciprocity we see here is not only a characteristic of this beatitude, continued the Pope. It is repeated throughout the entire Gospel. “How could it be otherwise? Mercy is the very heart of God!” he said.

The Pope then went on to mention a few examples of this reciprocity. In Luke’s Gospel, for example, Jesus teaches us that if we do not judge, we shall not be judged.

This theme is also very clear in the Lord’s Prayer, continued the Pope, when we say “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Then, picking up on the Gospel of Matthew, the Pope explained: “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”.

The forgiveness that we give and we receive are two things which cannot be separated, said Pope Francis. But there are many people who find themselves unable to forgive. Often the evil we have received is so great that forgiveness appears as arduous as climbing a mountain, he said.

Alone, he continued, we cannot mirror God’s mercy. “We need the grace of God”, he said, and we must ask for it. “If the Fifth Beatitude promises that we will find mercy, and in the Lord's Prayer we ask for our trespasses to be forgiven, it means that we are in debt, and in need of mercy!” said the Pope.

In fact, continued Pope Francis, we are all in debt to God, Pope Francis said, and it is this weakness that becomes the strength we need to forgive.

“Where does our mercy come from?” asked the Pope. Mercy is not one of many realities, “There is no Christianity without mercy.  If all our Christianity does not lead us to mercy, we are on the wrong path, because mercy is the only true goal of every spiritual journey. It is one of the most beautiful fruits of charity.”

Finally, Pope Francis reminded the faithful following his catechesis that “God's mercy is our liberation and our happiness”, emphasising, “it is the air that we must breathe”.

18 March 2020, 13:30