SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO MEMBERS OF ASSOCIATIONS, CONGREGATIONS AND
MOVEMENTS DEDICATED TO MERCY IN FRANCE
Hall of the Consistory
Friday, December 13, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters,
I thank you for this visit, on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome as representatives of associations, congregations and movements dedicated to divine mercy. I thank Cardinal Barbarin for the words with which he introduced our meeting. What unites you is the desire to let the world know the joy of mercy through the diversity of your charisms: with people in precarious situations, with migrants, the sick, prisoners, people with disabilities, wounded families. This diversity that you represent is very beautiful: it expresses the fact that there is no human poverty that God does not want to reach, touch and help. "The Church has the mission to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which through it must reach the heart and mind of every person" (Bolla Misericordiae Vultus, 12).
Mercy is, in fact, the ultimate and supreme act with which God comes to meet us and which opens our hearts to the hope of being loved forever, whatever our poverty, whatever our sin may be. God's love for us is not an abstract word. It has become visible and tangible in Jesus Christ. This is why "it is on the same wavelength that the merciful love of Christians must be directed. How he loves the Father so love children. How merciful he is, so we are called to be merciful to one another "(ibid., 9).
In the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, I hoped that, from the perspective of the new evangelization which the world so much needs, "the theme of mercy" should be "re-proposed with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action. It is decisive for the Church and for the credibility of her proclamation that she lives and witnesses mercy firsthand. His language and gestures must transmit mercy to penetrate the hearts of people and provoke them to find their way back to the Father "(ibid., 12).
I see, and I welcome it, that there are many in the Church in France who, with the support and encouragement of their pastors, hear this appeal. And it's nice that you do it together, that you find, together, ways to meet you to pray and to share, share your difficulties and experiences, but above all the joys and thanks, because there is a real joy in proclaiming the mercy of the Lord, of Him who knelt before his disciples to wash their feet and said: "You will be blessed if you do this" (see Jn 13:17) (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24) . I wish you to find ways to witness to you this joy of evangelizing by announcing God's mercy, to pass on the passion to others and spread the culture of mercy, which he urgently needs, around the world.
And so that you can do this, I would like to invite you to always be very careful to keep alive, first of all in the depths of your heart, this mercy of which you are witnessing. May the fulfillment, sometimes very demanding and tiring, of your charitable activities never suffocate the breath of tenderness and compassion from which they must be animated, and the look that expresses it. Not a look that starts from the top with condescension, but a look of brother and sister, which raises. This is the first thing that the rescued people must find in you, because they first need to feel understood, appreciated, respected, loved. And then another thing, which is not written but then the Cardinal will translate you. There is only one legitimate way to look at a person from the top to the bottom, just one: to help her rise up. Otherwise you can never look at a person from the top down. Just how you do it: to help it rise up.
On the other hand, I believe that we can be authentic apostles of mercy only if we are deeply aware of having been the object of it by the Father, and also, humbly, of being still its object while we exercise it. Saint John Paul II wrote: "We must also continually purify all our actions and our intentions in which mercy is understood and practiced unilaterally [...]. Only then, in effect, is it really an act of merciful love: when, realizing it, we are deeply convinced that, at the same time, we experience it on the part of those who accept it from us. If this bilateralism, this reciprocity is lacking, our actions are not yet authentic acts of mercy "(Enc. Dives in misericordia, 14).
In this time of preparation for Christmas, I propose to contemplate the crib. "[It] is an invitation to" feel ", to" touch "the poverty that the Son of God chose for himself in his Incarnation. And so, implicitly, it is a call to follow him on the path of humility, poverty, despoilment, which leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the Cross. It is a call to meet and serve him with mercy in the brothers and sisters in need (see Mt 25: 31-46) "(Apostolic Letter Admirabile signum, 3), and I hope that you will be strongly encouraged and renewed in your dedication .
I thank you again for this visit, and I wish you, your families and communities joyful Christmas parties. And please don't forget to pray for me. Thanks.