• January 20, 2016

The Face of the Father’s Mercy

“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mys­tery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and vis­ible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its cul­mi­na­tion in him. The Father, “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4)… has never ceased to show, in var­ious ways throughout his­tory, his divine nature. In the “full­ness of time” (Gal 4:4), when every­thing had been arranged according to his plan of sal­va­tion, he sent his only Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to reveal his love for us in a defini­tive way. Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God.

We need con­stantly to con­tem­plate the mys­tery of mercy. It is a well­spring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our sal­va­tion depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mys­tery of the Most Holy Trinity.

In short, the mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a con­crete reality with which he reveals his love as of that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child. It is hardly an exag­ger­a­tion to say that this is a “vis­ceral” love. It gushes forth from the depths nat­u­rally, full of ten­der­ness and com­pas­sion, indul­gence and mercy.

With our eyes fixed on Jesus and his mer­ciful gaze, we expe­ri­ence the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The mis­sion Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mys­tery of divine love in its full­ness. “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16), John affirms for the first and only time in all of Holy Scripture. This love has now been made vis­ible and tan­gible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gra­tu­itously. The rela­tion­ships he forms with the people who approach him man­i­fest some­thing entirely unique and unre­peat­able. The signs he works, espe­cially in favor of sin­ners, the poor, the marginal­ized, the sick, and the suf­fering, are all meant to teach mercy. Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of com­pas­sion…What moved Jesus in all of these sit­u­a­tions was nothing other than mercy, with which he read the hearts of those he encoun­tered and responded to their deepest need.

How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the good­ness and ten­der­ness of God! May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already pre­sent in our midst!”

 Pope Francis, Extracts from Misericordiae Vultus (The face of mercy), Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

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