Mercy is the Christian style : Pope Francis at Mass

In the chapel at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope celebrates the Mass and recalls that Christians do not follow the “spirit of the world,” but live the “folly of the Cross.”

“Being Christian is not easy,” but makes us “happy”: the path pointed out to us by the heavenly Father is that of “mercy” and of “interior peace.” Beginning from the day’s Gospel from St Luke (6:27-38), Pope Francis once again clarified the distinctive traits of the “Christian style.” The Pope said that the Lord always indicates to us what the “life of the disciple” must be. He does so, for example, through the Beatitudes or the Works of Mercy.

Going against the logic of the world

In a particular way, the day’s liturgy focuses on “four details for living the Christian life”: “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” In his homily, Pope Francis said that Christians should never enter “into gossiping,” or “into the logic of insults,” which only cause “war,” but to always find time “to pray for annoying people”:

This is the Christian style, this is the manner of Christian living. But if I do not do these four things? Loving enemies, doing good to those who hate me, blessing those who curse me, and praying for those who mistreat me, am I not a Christian? Yes, you are a Christian because you have received Baptism, but you are not living like a Christian. You are living like a pagan, with the spirit of worldliness.

The folly of the Cross

It is certainly easy to “badmouth enemies or those who are of a different party,” but Christian logic goes against the current, and follows the “folly of the Cross.” The ultimate goal, Pope Francis added, “is to get to the point where we behave ourselves like children of our Father”:

Only the merciful are like God the Father. ‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.’ This is the path, the path that goes against the spirit of the world, that thinks differently, that does not accuse others. Because among us is the “Great Accuser,” the one who is always going about to accuse us before God, to destroy. Satan: he is the “Great Accuser.” And when I enter into this logic of accusing, of cursing, seeking to do evil to others, I enter into the logic of the “Great Accuser” who is the “Destroyer,” who does not know the word mercy, does not know, has never lived it.

The mercy of the Christian

Life fluctuates between two invitations: That of the Father and that of the “Great Accuser,” “who pushes us to accuse others, to destroy them”:

But it is he who is destroying me! And you cannot do it to the other. You cannot enter into the logic of the accuser. ‘But Father, I have to accuse.’ Yes, accuse yourself. You do well. For the other, only mercy, because we are children of the Father who is merciful.

Never has God been more silenced : Pope Francis to Bishops

Addressing the new Bishops, the Pope told them that they were chosen by God and therefore, what was required of them was not an intermittent dedication, but to give of their all day and night. Pope Francis stressed to those gathered, that they needed to “remain vigilant even when the light disappears, or when God himself is hidden in the darkness, when the temptation to withdraw is insinuated and the “Evil one”, who is always lurking, subtly suggests that by now the dawn will no longer come.”

Perseverance in faith

He continued by saying, that it was vital to “remain faithful even when, in the heat of the day, the forces of perseverance fail and the result of fatigue no longer depends on the resources we have.”Offering the new Bishops advice as they begin their ministry, the Pontiff asked them “to put God at the centre”. He is the one, the Pope said, “who asks everything but in return offers life fully”. He went on to say, that they should not let themselves be drawn in by stories of catastrophes or prophecies regarding disasters, because what really matters is persevering, and keeping their heads raised towards the Lord.

Humility in God’s mission

In his address, the Holy Father also noted the many consecrated men and ministers of God, who go about their work with silent dedication and persevere regardless of the fact that the good they do often does not make the front pages or is the subject of blogs. These people, said the Pope, “continue to believe and to preach courageously the Gospel of grace and mercy to men thirsting for reasons to live, to hope and to love.” Pope Francis told those present that he was well aware “of how loneliness and abandonment rage in our time, individualism spreads and indifference to the destiny of others grows.” Their fate, he added, “does not challenge the conscience of all and often, unfortunately, those who have the greatest responsibility, guiltily avoid it. But we are not allowed to ignore the flesh of Christ, which has been entrusted to us not only in the sacrament that we break, but also in the people we have inherited.”

The New Wine

The Church’s goal, underlined Pope Francis, was to distribute a new wine that is Christ in the world. “Nothing can distract us from this mission.” By meeting you, he said, “each person can at least touch the beauty of God, the safety of his company and the fullness of his closeness. It is a holiness that grows while one discovers that God is not tameable, he does not need enclosures to defend his freedom, and does not contaminate as he approaches, indeed, he sanctifies what he touches.” “We do not need the account of our own virtues, nor a program of abstinence, a personal gym routine or a diet that is renewed from Monday to Monday, as if sanctity were the result of will alone. The source of holiness is the grace to approach the joy of the Gospel…”

Pope Francis urged the Bishops not to “be ashamed of the flesh of your Churches. Enter into dialogue with their questions”, he said. “I recommend special attention to the clergy and seminaries.” We cannot respond to the challenges we have towards them without updating our processes of selection, accompaniment, evaluation. But our answers will be devoid of a future if they do not reach the spiritual chasm that, in many cases, has allowed scandalous weaknesses, if they do not reveal the existential emptiness that they have nurtured, if they do not reveal why God has been so mute, so silenced, so removed from a certain way of life, as if he were not there.”

Concluding his discourse the Pope invited the Bishops to look inside themselves and ask “what he can do to make the face of the Church we govern in the name of the Supreme Pastor more holy. For this, he added, “it was necessary to work together and in communion, but certain that true holiness is what God accomplishes in us.”