In 2016, Pope Francis inaugurated the first ever jubilee “Year of Mercy” for the universal Church. On various occasions, the Holy Father has commented on the merciful gaze of the Father, even writing that the “face of God is mercy.” The Latin root of the word mercy means, literally, a heart that gives itself to the miserable one (misericordia). Mercy thus implies the unfortunate reality of sin. But it also points to love as an essential attribute of God. As Bishop Robert Barron instructs us, “mercy is what love looks like when it turns toward the sinner.”
As the Church just recently celebrated the great Feast of Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter, Catholics worldwide should remember the inexhaustible gift of mercy offered to us through the merits of Christ’s passion and resurrection from the dead. The saints – especially mystics like St. Faustina and St. John Paul II – prophetically testify that God desires to shower his mercy upon us in this age, in particular. It is not God who stops forgiving us, Pope Francis writes, but we who stop asking God for his forgiveness.
Unfortunately, two common temptations risk alienating us from this divine gift. The first temptation surfaces when we think we do not need forgiveness, because we lack sin. As St. John reminds us, if we say we have no sin, we are liars. But the second temptation is just as dangerous: the lie, unfortunately believed by so many, that one’s wickedness and sinfulness is so great, not even God could forgive this or that sin. The evil one uses this lie to tempt us to despair. There is no sin beyond the mercy of God. In this age of divine mercy, we must heed the advice of the Holy Father, and return to the Father of all mercies.
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