The Holy Father invited assembled to perform two works of mercy: pray for the dead and comfort the afflicted
VATICAN CITY — Christians are called to be missionaries of God’s mercy as this is the only way the Gospel will touch hearts and open them to receive the gift of love, Pope Francis said on Saturday.
This is “especially” true for “all those who feel distant from God,” the pope added.
Speaking to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at his first special Saturday audience for the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis said, “the concrete sign that we have truly encountered Jesus is the joy we experience in sharing it with others.
“Let us never tire of feeling the need for his forgiveness, because when we are weak, his closeness makes us strong and allows us to live our faith with greater joy.”
In his speech, Pope Francis also unexpectedly added that he was “somewhat sad today” over the death of a lady named Elvira, who worked at the Casa Santa Marta where he lives.
Elvira was “part of our family,” he said, and invited pilgrims “to perform two works of mercy: to pray for the dead and to comfort the afflicted.”
“I invite you to pray a Hail Mary for the eternal peace and eternal joy of Elvira, and that the Lord console her husband and children,” he said, before extending special greetings to young people, the sick and newlyweds.
The pope’s special Jubilee audiences will be held on one Saturday morning of each month during the Jubilee Year, in addition to his traditional Wednesday audiences.
Here below we publish a translation of the pope’s address.
Mercy and Mission
Dear brothers and sisters,
We enter day after day into living the Holy Year of Mercy. With his grace, the Lord guides our steps as we pass through the Holy Door, and he comes to meet us to remain with us always, despite our shortcomings and contradictions. Let us never tire of feeling the need for his forgiveness, because when we are weak, his closeness makes us strong and allows us to live our faith with greater joy.
Today I wish to speak to you about the close relationship between mercy and mission. As St. John Paul II reminded us: “The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy … and when she brings people close to the sources of the Savior’s mercy (Dives in misericordia, 13). As Christians, we are responsible for being missionaries of the Gospel. When we receive the good news, or when we experience a beautiful moment, it’s natural that we feel the need to share it with others. We feel within ourselves that we cannot hold back the joy that was given to us: we want to share it. The joy aroused in us is such that it drives us to communicate it.
And it should be the same when we encounter the Lord: the joy of this encounter, of his mercy, [should drive us ] to share the Lord’s mercy. Indeed, the concrete sign that we have truly encountered Jesus is the joy we experience in sharing it with others. And this is not to “proselytize,” this is to give a gift: I give you what gives me joy. In reading the Gospel we see that this was the experience of the first disciples: after their first encounter with Jesus, Andrew went directly to tell his brother Peter ( cf. John 1:40-42), and Phillip did the same thing with Nathaniel (cf. John 1:45-46). To encounter Jesus is to experience his love. This love transforms us and makes us capable of sharing to others the power that he gives us.
Somehow we could say that from the day of our baptism, a new name is given to each of us, in addition to the one our mother and father give us, and this name is “Christopher.” We are all “Christophers.” What does it mean? “Christ-bearers.” And it is the name of our attitude, an attitude of being bearers of the joy of Christ, of the mercy of Christ. Every Christian is a “Christopher” (i.e., a bearer of Christ)!
The mercy we receive from the Father has not been given to us as a private consolation but makes us instruments so that others may also receive the same gift. There is a wonderful interplay between mercy and mission. To live mercy makes us missionaries of mercy, and to be missionaries enables us to grow more and more in the mercy of God. Therefore, let us take our Christian lives seriously, and let us strive to live like believers, because this is the only way the Gospel can touch the hearts of people and open them to receive the grace of love, to receive the great mercy of God, that welcomes everyone.
Following his catechesis, the pope said to English-speaking pilgrims:
I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience. May your stay in the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord, and may he make you his missionaries of mercy, especially for all those who feel distant from God. May God bless you all!
He also said:
Some of you asked what the pope’s home is like, where the pope lives. The pope lives just behind [St. Peter’s Basilica], in Casa Santa Marta. It is a big house, where some 40 priests and several bishops who work with me in the Curia live, and there are guests who pass through: cardinals, bishops, laity who come to Rome for meetings in the dicasteries and these sorts of things … and there is a group of men and women who work in the house, both the work of cleaning, in the kitchen and in the dining room. And this group of men and women are part of our family; they form a family: they are not distant employees, because we consider them part of our family.
And I would like to tell you that today the pope is somewhat sad, because yesterday a lady who has helped us very much, for years, died. Her husband also works here, with us, in this house. After a long illness, the Lord called her to himself. Her name is Elvira. I invite you today to perform two works of mercy: to pray for the dead and to comfort the afflicted. And I invite you to pray a Hail Mary for the eternal peace and eternal joy of Elvira, and that the Lord console her husband and her children.
Lastly, the Holy Father extended a special greeting:
Lastly, I address young people, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow we remember St. John Bosco, the apostole to youth. May you look to him, dear young people, as an exemplary teacher. May you, dear sick, learn from his spiritual experience to trust always in Christ crucified. And may you, dear newlyweds, have recourse to his intercession in taking on your mission as a married couple with generous commitment.