Francis reflects on the only Beatitude where the cause is also the fruit of the Blessedness.
Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Beatitudes with the March 18 general audience, speaking about the only Beatitude in which the cause and the fruit of the blessedness coincide: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
This led the pope to reflect on forgiveness, and how we are all, always, in need of mercy.
We are all in debt. All of us. To God, Who is so generous, and to our brothers. Every person knows he is not the father or mother he or she should be, the husband or wife, the brother or sister. We are all “in deficit” in life. And we are in need of mercy. We know that we too have done wrong, there is always something good that is missing, that we should have done.But it is precisely this poverty of ours that becomes the force for forgiveness! We are debtors and if, as we heard at the beginning, we will be judged with the measure with which we measure others (cf. Lk 6: 38), then it is best for us to extend the measure and remit debts, forgive. Every person should remember they need to forgive, they are in need of forgiveness, and they need patience; this is the secret of mercy: by forgiving, one is forgiven. Because God precedes us and He is the first to forgive us (cf. Rom 5: 8). Receiving His forgiveness, we in turn become capable of forgiving. Thus one’s own misery and one’s own lack of justice become an opportunity to open oneself up to the kingdom of heaven, to a greater measure, the measure of God, Who is mercy.
The pope noted how this theme of reciprocal mercy is not just found in the Beatitudes, but is actually recurrent in the Gospels: “And how could it be otherwise? Mercy is the very heart of God!”
He cited Luke 6:37 — do not judge and you will not be judged — as well as Matthew 6:14 and James 2:13. And above all, the Lord’s Prayer. Forgiveness granted and forgiveness received are two things that cannot be separated, the Holy Father insisted.
But he also acknowledged that it is difficult: “By ourselves we are not able; it takes the grace of God, we must ask for it. Indeed, if the fifth Beatitude promises finding mercy and in the Lord’s Prayer we ask for the remission of sins, it means that we are essentially debtors and we need to find mercy!”
Key point of pontificate
Pope Francis said that “mercy is not one dimension among others, but rather it is at the center of Christian life: there is no Christianity without mercy.”
And he recalled how mercy has become a key tenet of his pontificate.
I remember that this theme was chosen from the first Angelus that I had to say as pope: mercy. And this has remained very much impressed on me, as a message that as pope I should always give, a message that must be given everyday: mercy. I remember that day I also had the somewhat “shameless” attitude of promoting a book on mercy, that had just been published by Cardinal Kasper. And that day I felt so strongly that this is the message I must give, as Bishop of Rome: mercy, mercy, please, forgive.
“The mercy of God is our liberation and our happiness,” the Holy Father concluded. “We live on mercy and we cannot afford to be without mercy: it is the air we breathe. We are too poor to set conditions, we need to forgive, because we need to be forgiven.”