THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Day after day, we enter the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy. While we cross the Holy Door, the Lord guides our steps with His grace, and He comes to meet us, to remain always with us, notwithstanding our faults and contradictions. Let us never tire of feeling the need for His forgiveness, because when we are weak, His closeness makes us strong and enables us to live our faith with greater joy.
I would like to point out today the close bond that exists between mercy and mission. As Saint John Paul II reminded: “The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy and when she draws men to the sources of mercy” (Encyclical Dives in Misericordia, 13). As Christians, we have the responsibility to be missionaries of the Gospel. When we receive good news, or when we live a beautiful experience, it is natural to feel the need to share it with others. We feel within us that we cannot keep the joy that was given to us: we want to extend it. The joy aroused is such, that it pushes us to communicate it.
And it should be the same when we encounter the Lord: to communicate the joy of this encounter, of His mercy, of the Lord’s mercy. In fact, the concrete sign that we have truly encountered Jesus is the joy we experience in communicating it also to others. And this is not “engaging in proselytism,” this is to make a gift: I give you what gives me joy. Reading the Gospel, we see that this was the experience of the first disciples: after the first encounter with Jesus, Andrew went immediately to tell his brother Peter (Cf. John 1:40-42), and Philip did the same with Nathaniel (Cf. John 1:45-46). To encounter Jesus is the same as encountering His love. This love transforms us and enables us to transmit to others the strength that it gives us. In some way, we can say that from the day of Baptism each one of us was given a new name, in addition to the one already given by our mother and father, and this name is “Cristoforo”: we are all “Cristofori.” What does it mean? “Bearers of Christ.” It is the name of our attitude, an attitude of bearers of the joy of Christ, of the mercy of Christ. Every Christian is a “Cristoforo,” that is a bearer of Christ!
The mercy we receive from the Father is not given to us as a private consolation, but it makes us instruments, so that others can also receive the same gift. There is a stupendous circularity between mercy and mission. To live mercy makes us missionaries of mercy, and to be missionaries enables us to grow ever more in God’s mercy. Therefore, let us take seriously our being Christians, and commit ourselves to live as believers, because only thus can the Gospel touch the heart of persons and open it to receive the grace of love, to receive this great mercy of God who welcomes all.
Some of you have wondered what the Pope’s house is like, where the Pope lives. The Pope lives behind here, at Saint Martha’s House. It is a large house, where some forty priests and some bishops live who work with me in the Curia, and there are also passing guests: cardinals, bishops, laymen that come to Rome for meetings in the dicasteries, and such things … And there is a group of men and women that carry out the works of the house, be it in cleaning, in the kitchen, in the dining room. And this group of men and women is part of our family, they constitute a family: they are not distant dependents, because we consider them as part of our family. And I would like to say to you that the Pope is a bit sad today, because yesterday a lady passed away who has helped us so much, for years … Her husband also works here, with us, in this house. After a long illness, the Lord called her to Himself. Her name is Elvira, and I invite you today to do two works of mercy: to pray for the deceased and to console the afflicted. And I invite you to pray a Hail Mary for the eternal peace and eternal joy of the lady, whose name was Elvira, and that the Lord may console her husband and her children.
I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the Saint Charles Fraternity and the parish groups. I am pleased to receive the members of the National Association of the Mutilated and the Invalids of Work: your presence offers me the occasion to confirm how important it is to safeguard the health of workers, and to defend human life, a gift of God, always, especially when it is weaker and more fragile. I greet the directors and dependents of the Automobile Club of Italy and of ATAC – Firm for Rome’s mobility, encouraging them in their work, because today the quality of social life depends very much on the quality of transports. I hope there will be increasingly a greater commitment to reduce pollution, and I thank you for the services to pilgrims, especially in this Jubilee Year.
Finally, a thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow, we will remember Saint John Bosco, apostle of youth. Look to him, dear young people, as an exemplary educator. You, dear sick, learn from his spiritual experience to trust always in the crucified Christ. And you, dear newlyweds, recur to his intercession to assume your conjugal mission with generous commitment.