Mercy is an open book – and it's our task to write it, Pope says
Pope Francis celebrates Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday April 4, 2016. Credit: Alexey Gotovsky/CNA.
“The Gospel is the book of God’s mercy, to be read and reread, because everything that Jesus said and did is an expression of the Father’s mercy,” the Pope said April 3.
He noted how at the end of the day’s Gospel reading from John, the evangelist expressed that while Jesus carried out many signs in the presence of his disciples, not all of them were written down.
Because of this, “the Gospel of mercy remains an open book, in which the signs of Christ’s disciples, which are concrete acts of love and the best witness to mercy, continue to be written,” he said.
“We are all called to become living writers of the Gospel,” Francis continued, explaining that this is done by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, “which are the hallmarks of the Christian life.”
“By means of these simple yet powerful gestures, even when unseen, we can accompany the needy, bringing God’s tenderness and consolation.”
Pope Francis spoke to a full St. Peter’s Square during his Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast instituted by St. John Paul II and which takes place every year the second Sunday after Easter.
In his homily, the Pope focused on the healings carried out by the disciples in the day’s first reading from Acts, as well as Jesus’ appearance to them in the upper room in the Gospel passage from John.
He noted that in addition to speaking of the signs that Jesus did, the Gospel also presents a contrast between the fear of the disciples, who “gathered behind closed doors,” and the mission of Jesus, “who sends them into the world to proclaim the message of forgiveness.”
This contrast between “a closed heart and the call of love to open doors closed by sin” exists in the heart of many people today, Francis observed, explaining that Jesus’ call is one “that frees us to go out of ourselves.”
“Jesus, who by his resurrection has overcome the fear and dread which imprison us, wishes to throw open our closed doors and send us out,” he said, noting that much of humanity today is wounded, fearful, and marked by pain and uncertainty.
However, every infirmity finds healing in God’s mercy, the Pope said, adding that this mercy isn’t far off, but seeks to be close to those effected by poverty and to free the world from all types of slavery.
To be an apostle, he said, means “touching and soothing the wounds that today afflict the bodies and souls of many of our brothers and sisters.”
When we cure the wounds of our suffering brothers and sisters, “we profess Jesus” and make him alive and present in the world, Francis observed, adding that “this is the mission that he entrusts to us.”
Pope Francis then pointed to Jesus’ appearance to his disciples in the Gospel, noting how he greeted them with the words “peace be with you.”
The peace that Jesus offered is the same one which “awaits men and women of our own day,” he said, explaining that it isn’t “a negotiated peace” absent of conflict, but one that comes from the heart of God, uniting us and making us feel loved.
To be bearers of this peace is the mission that was entrusted to the Church on Easter day, the Pope said, adding that this peace is constantly renewed by God’s forgiveness.
Francis closed his homily by encouraging faithful to give thanks for God’s great love, “which we find impossible to grasp,” and which never abandons us.
He prayed that all would receive the grace “to never grow tired of drawing from the well of the Father’s mercy and bringing it to the world,” and asked that “we too may be merciful, to spread the power of the Gospel everywhere, and to write those pages of the Gospel which John the Apostle did not write.”
After Mass Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying the traditional Regina Caeli prayer, calling to mind all countries affected by war and violence, particularly the Ukraine.