Pope Francis, not long after he became Pope, was asked how he would describe himself. “I am a sinner,” then added, “who has been looked upon by the face of mercy.” It is an answer that is true of each one of us. But the difference between us and Pope Francis is that his awareness of the mercy of God is central to his faith and life. It is his awareness of God’s mercy and the way he then shows it to others that makes him the remarkable man he is and allows his influence to stretch outside the Church and across the world.
To encourage us to come to know the mercy of God, to appreciate that God’s love accepts us as we are, while at the same time encourages us to become what we are called to be that Pope Francis decided to call A Year of Mercy which will be launched in Rome this Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will end on Sunday, 20 November 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and living face of the Father’s mercy. When he announced this Year of Mercy Pope Francis said “I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time. Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness. Let us henceforth entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey: our penitential journey, our year-long journey with an open heart, to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God.”
The diocese has produced a pamphlet giving a broad outline of the year of mercy and a prayer card and these are available at the back of the church for you to take.
Information on diocesan events will be announced later.
So, how much does God love me? As he hung crucified, in agony and dying, Jesus looked down on the men who had tortured, mocked and nailed him to the cross and instead of cursing them to hell he prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
In an interview 5 days ago Pope Francis was asked “Is there a gesture you intend to make during the Jubilee to show God’s mercy?”
He responded. “There will be many gestures, but on one Friday each month I will make a different gesture.” Watch this space!