POPE FRANCIS STARTS NEW WEEKLY CATECHESIS ON MERCY
In his first general audience of the new year, held inside the Paul VI Hall, as often happens at this time of year, Pope Francis announced a new series of catecheses: “Today we begin a series of catecheses on mercy from a Biblical perspective, so that we may learn mercy by listening to what God Himself teaches us through His Word.”
“We will begin with the Old Testament,” he said, “which prepares us and leads us to the full revelation of Jesus Christ in whom the mercy of the Father is fully revealed. He noted that, “in Sacred Scripture, the Lord is presented as the merciful God. This is His name, the name by which He reveals to us, so to speak, His face and His heart.” And he quoted from the Book of Exodus where God “reveals Himself to Moses as: ‘the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity’. We find this formula in other texts too; there might be some variations, but the focus is always on the mercy and love of God who never tires of forgiving,” explained the Holy Father.
He then looked at these qualities, one by one.
“The Hebrew word for mercy,” said Francis, evokes the tender and visceral love of a mother for her child. The God of mercy is also gracious, ever ready to understand and forgive. He is slow to anger, prepared to wait patiently, like a wise farmer, for the seeds of repentance to grow in our hearts. Likewise, he abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness. God’s love, freely given, precedes any merit on our part; his faithfulness, like that of the father in the parable of the prodigal son, has no limits. He waits for us, ever ready to forgive our sins and to welcome us back to a right relationship with him. In this Year of Mercy, may we turn to God with all our heart, trusting in his mercy and grace, his infinite faithfulness and love.”
At the end of today’s audience, the Holy Father invited prayer for the victims of the attack that took place yesterday afternoon in Istanbul.
“May the Lord, the Merciful, grant eternal peace to the departed, consolation to their families and steadfast solidarity to all of society, and convert the hearts of the violent.”
A suicide bomber, discovered to be a Syrian terrorist who had returned to Turkey, killed nine German and one Peruvian tourist on in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet Square, a prime area of the city for tourists, and not far from the famed Blue Mosque.