Pope Francis Gives 2 Verbs of Mercy at General Audience
September 21, 2016, Pope at Jubilee Audience. Pope Francis has given faithful the two verbs of mercy, stressing that for fulfillment in life, we are called to forgive and give.
During this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, while reflecting on Luke’s Gospel (6: 36-38) on mercy which inspired the Jubilee Year’s motto: ‘Be merciful as your father is merciful,’ Francis stressed this is “not a slogan for effect, but a life commitment.” He recalled that in the Sermon on the Mount, which opens with the Beatitudes, the Lord teaches that perfection consists in love, and reminded those present that St. Luke explicitly explains that perfection is the merciful love: ‘to be perfect means to be merciful.’
“A person who is not merciful is perfect?” the Pope asked. “No!” “A person who is not merciful is good? No!” he continued, clarifying that goodness and perfection are always rooted in mercy.
Realistic for Us?
“Of course, God is perfect.” the Pope said, noting that even if we humans are not capable of reaching absolute perfection, our being merciful is all that God expects from us. “He urges us to be as He is, full of love, compassion, mercy.” He continued, “But I wonder: Are the words of Jesus realistic? Is it really possible to love as God loves and be merciful like Him?”
The Jesuit Pope noted that if we look at the history of salvation, we see that the whole revelation of God is a ceaseless and untiring love for mankind, and that Jesus’ death on the Cross is the culmination of the love story between God and man. Francis admitted that only God can accomplish a love so great, and that, “It is clear that, compared to this love that has no measure, our love will always be at fault.”
“But when Jesus calls us to be merciful as the Father,” Francis continued, “He does not think the amount! He asks his disciples to become sign, channels, witnesses of his mercy.” Jesus, the Pope explained, wishes that His Church is a sacrament of God’s mercy in the world, at any time and for all mankind. “Every Christian, therefore, is called to be a witness of mercy, and this happens in the path of holiness,” Francis said, urging: “Think of how many saints have become merciful, for they are left to fill the heart of the divine mercy.”
2 Verbs of Mercy
The Pope then said that we do ought to ask ourselves: ‘What it means for the disciples to be merciful?’ He responded that Jesus has already given us the answer, that lies in living out two verbs: forgiving and giving.
Mercy is expressed, first of all, in the forgiveness: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”(v. 37) “Jesus does not intend to pervert the course of human justice, however, He reminded His disciples that to have fraternal relations, one must suspend judgments and sentences. Forgiveness,” he noted, “is the pillar that holds up the life of the Christian community, because it shows the gratuitousness with which God has loved us first.”
“The Christian must forgive! But why? Why he was forgiven. All of us who are here today, in the square, we have been forgiven. None of us, in life, had no need of God’s forgiveness. And because we have been forgiven, we must forgive.” Judging and condemning the brother who sins, the Pope said, is wrong. “Not because I do not want to recognize sin, but because in condemning the sinner, the bond of fraternity with him breaks. We have the power to condemn our erring brother, [but] we are not above him: we have rather a duty to recover the dignity of a child of the Father and accompany him on his journey of conversion.”
The Pope then discussed how Jesus has given us a second pillar: ‘giving.’ Francis reminded them of Jesus’ advice: “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. (v. 38)”
Noting how God gives far beyond our merits, Francis noted that He will be even more generous to those on earth who were generous to others. “Jesus does not say what will happen to those who do not donate, but the image of the “measure” is a warning: with the measure that we take, we can determine how we will be judged…” Merciful love, Pope Francis underscored, is the only way forward.
“We must forgive, be merciful, live our life in love. This love enables Jesus’ disciples not to lose the identity received from Him, and to recognize themselves as sons of the same Father. But do not forget this: mercy and blessing; forgiveness and gift. In this way, the heart enlarges, it widens in love. Instead selfishness, anger, make the little heart, which hardens like a stone.”
“What do you prefer?” Pope Francis concluded asking. “A heart of stone and a heart full of love? If you prefer a heart full of love, be merciful!”
On ZENIT’s Web page: https://zenit.org/articles/pope-francis-gives-2-verbs-of-mercy-at-general-audience/
Full text of general audience: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-be-perfect-merciful-as-your-heavenly-father-is-perfect-merciful/
What does it mean to be a LIVE Catholic? It means we are not afraid to live life abundantly! To drink in the beauty of life, family, friends and the world. We are not afraid to explore the wonders of Christ. We have Hope! Hope for a better life in Christ, and most importantly the Hope of being with Christ on the “other side.” Whether we are new Catholics, “Reverts”, members of the life-long faithful, or those just considering Catholicism, we all can live life in the joy of Christ.
Too many Catholics think religion is dour, depressing – what grandmothers and old men do. They have the impression that to be a saint is to be boring and painful. Long hours on their knees wearing hairshirts. But holiness is not about hairshirts – it is about union with God. An aliveness we can not only dream about but actually attain. A great adventure waiting for us that we only have to open ourselves to. And yes, this means YOU TOO!
Saints are truly the most joyful people around. We may not know many – if any – but when you meet one you can sense it immediately. They radiate love, goodness and truth. Sure it is not all fun and games. Life is not like that. But the joy in Christ we experience here on earth is but a taste of the joy to come.
True Catholics don’t spend their time complaining about how unfair the Church is, or how they are not getting their fair share, or how so-and-so said an unthinking word. True Catholics realize that it is all about their relationship with Christ, not about rules. The rules are there to give us a framework to build on, to go beyond. A starting point.
True Catholics are alive in the Faith. They take a journey every day with Christ. They never stop learning. They are never afraid Christ will abandon them. They suffer hardships, pain and disappointments with faith and trust that the Lord will give them the strength and help to persevere. To get to this point – joy in the Lord amidst life’s struggles – is itself a journey. We have so much to learn and experience. There is a depth to Catholicism that is unfathomable to us. We could spend our entire lives with our nose in book after book, website after website, and never even scratch the surface of the knowledge of Christ held within the Church.
In another way though, knowledge of Christ is profoundly simple. Even small children and the uneducated understand it, and in many ways, better than anyone. They have a deep understanding of who God is and what he wants from our lives. Simple people have far less in their way to Christ than we may have.
To live as a Catholic, to be an alive Catholic, means to not let the world surround us, choke us, smother us with falsehoods. We have to grow in knowledge and holiness. We need to take advantage of the depth and beauty of Catholicism and what the Church has to offer us. We have to not be suspicious, to not always be looking for the “catch.” Of course, we cannot ignore problems when they happen, in the Church or in life, but we cannot let them spoil our joy. We cannot allow problems to penetrate and sour our relationship with the Church and with Christ.
We also need to let our joy spread. An alive Catholic opens his or her heart to the world. They have compassion for those in the world – be it a starving child, or a person whose heart is a stone. We need to let the Holy Spirit flow through us to spread the Kingdom of Christ. We need to do this even when confronted by hostile territory and the “snakes” of the world. Our mission is to be in Christ and spread Christ in spite of problems or problem people – like family, or co-workers, or even other Catholics.
The most important thing I can possibly say to you is that YOU, with God’s grace, can do this. You too can be a Live Catholic. Someone who radiates joy and has a deep relationship with God. If you trust God, open your heart to him, and seek him with all your heart you will find him.
By Marcy K.
Originally titled: Pentecost: The Difference that the Spirit Makes
By Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Somehow many Catholics have missed the good news about Pentecost. OK, we Catholics celebrate the feast every year and mention it in Confirmation class, but lots of us evidently didn’t “get it.”
Because if we “got it,” we’d be different . . . bold instead of timid, energetic instead of anemic, fascinated instead of bored. Compare the apostles before and after Pentecost and you’ll see the difference the Spirit makes.
The gospel is Good News not just because we’re going to heaven, but because we’ve been empowered to become new people, here and now. Vatican II insisted that each of us is called to the heights of holiness (Lumen Gentium, chapter V). Not by will-power, mind you. But by Holy Spirit power. Holiness consists in faith, hope, and especially divine love. These are “virtues,” literally “powers,” given by the Spirit. To top it off, the Spirit gives us seven further gifts which perfect faith, hope, and love, making it possible for us to live a supernatural, charismatic life. Some think this is only for the chosen few, “the mystics.” Thomas Aquinas taught to the contrary that the gifts of Isaiah 11:1-3 (wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord) are standard equipment given in baptism, that all are called to be “mystics.”
Vatican II also taught that every Christian has a vocation to serve. We need power for this too. And so the Spirit distributes other gifts, called “charisms.” These, teaches St. Thomas, are not so much for our own sanctification as for service to others. There is no exhaustive list of charisms, though St. Paul mentions a few (I Corinthians 12:7-10, Romans 12:6-8) ranging from tongues to Christian marriage (1 Corinthians7: 7). Charisms are not doled out by the pastors; but are given directly by the Spirit through baptism and confirmation, even sometimes outside of the sacraments (Acts 10:44-48).
Do I sound Pentecostal? That’s because I belong to the largest Pentecostal Church in the world. Correcting the mistaken notion that the charisms were just for the apostolic church, Vatican II had this to say: “Allotting His gifts ‘to everyone according as he will’ (1 Cor. 12:11), He [the Holy Spirit] distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. . . . These charismatic gifts, whether they be the most outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the Church” (LG12).
Powerful gifts, freely given to all. Sounds like a recipe for chaos. But the Lord also imparted to the apostles and their successors a unifying charism of headship. The role of the ordained is not to do everything themselves. Rather, they are to discern, shepherd, and coordinate the charisms of the laity so that they mature and work together for the greater glory of God (LG 30).
So what if you, like me, did not quite “get it” when you were confirmed? I’ve got good news for you. You actually did get the Spirit and his gifts. Have you ever received a new credit card with a sticker saying “Must call to activate before using?” The Spirit and his gifts are the same way. You have to call in and activate them. Do it today and every day, and especially every time you attend Mass. Because every sacramental celebration is a New Pentecost where the Spirit and his gifts are poured out anew (CCC 739, 1106).
That’s why the Christian Life is an adventure. There will always be new surprises of the Spirit!
Source: Catholic Exchange, June 2, 2017: http://catholicexchange.com/pentecost-difference-spirit-makes?mc_cid=d40f4cd676&mc_eid=9d05a73963
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