Faithfulness in mercy is God's way of being, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God’s mercy is constant and limitless; he is faithful in
his mercy for his children, even when they are unfaithful, Pope Francis

The greatness and power of God unfolds in his “love for
us, who are so
small, so incapable,” he said at his weekly general audience Jan. 13.

In his first general audience of the new year, the pope
began a new series of
talks on mercy, reflecting on its description in the Bible, where from the “Old
Testament to the full revelation of Jesus Christ, the mercy of the Father is
revealed in its completeness.”

Speaking to some 6,000 people gathered in the Paul VI
audience hall, the pope began by reflecting on the biblical description of God
who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in love and

The pope said the Bible compares God’s merciful love to the
tenderness and love of a mother who seeks “to love, protect, help (and) is quick to give
everything, even herself” for her children. “That is the image that
this word suggests,” he said. It is “a love that can be defined, in a
good way, as ‘visceral.'”

God’s graciousness, he continued, is exemplified in his
compassion for the weak and the poor along with his readiness to receive,
understand and forgive. This aspect is seen in the father of the prodigal son who did not
latch on to resentment against his son, but rather “continued to wait for

“Great is his love and joy at having found him again; and then he goes and also calls
his oldest son who is indignant and does not want to celebrate, this son who
remained at home but lived more like a servant than as a son,” the pope
said. “But the father
stoops down to him as well, inviting him to enter, seeking to open his
heart to love, so that none remain excluded from the feast of mercy. Mercy is a

The beauty of God’s love and faithfulness shows affection,
grace and goodness, he
said, and is nothing like the superficiality of a “soap opera

“It is love that takes the first step; it does not depend on human
merits but on an
immense generosity,” he said. “It is the divine solicitude that
nothing can stop, not even sin because he knows to go beyond sin, to overcome
evil and to forgive.”

God’s mercy and faithfulness, he added, is a stable presence
that strengthens faith and gives Christians the opportunity to experience his
love, especially during the Holy Year of Mercy.

At the
end of the audience, Pope Francis led the faithful in praying for the
families and victims of a suicide bomb attack in Istanbul on Jan. 12. The
attack claimed the lives of 10 people and left 15 wounded. Turkish officials said the
bomber belonged to the so-called Islamic State terrorist group.

The pope prayed that “the Lord, the merciful, give
eternal peace to the deceased, comfort to their relatives, firm solidarity to
the whole society, and convert the hearts of the violent.”

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