“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13).
The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee
1. Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes be- cause she is evangelized
In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mer- cy, I asked that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to cele- brate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative “24 Hours for the Lord”, I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God’s word, especially his prophetic word. The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation
which each Christian is called to experience at first hand. For this reason, during the season of Lent I will send out Missionaries of Mercy as a concrete sign to every one of God’s closeness and forgiveness.
2. God’s covenant with humanity: a history of mercy
The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compas- sion, especially at those tragic moments when infidelity ruptures the bond of
the covenant, which then needs to be ratified more firmly in justice and truth. Here is a true love story, in which God plays the role of the betrayed father and husband, while Israel plays the unfaithful child and bride. These domestic images – as in the case of Hosea (cf. Hos 1-2) – show to what extent God wishes to bind himself to his people.
After receiving the Good News told to her by the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her. The Virgin of Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph, thus becomes the perfect icon of the Church which evangelizes, for she was, and continues to be, evangelized by the Holy Spirit, who made her virginal womb fruitful. In the prophetic tradition, mercy is strictly related – even on the etymological level – to the maternal womb (rahamim) and to a generous, faithful and compassion- ate goodness (hesed) shown within marriage and family relationships. Read more