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Pope says mercy is the heart of God’s message

05 July, 2013 - Emphasizing the words of Jesus, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” Pope Francis said on Friday that mercy is the heart of God’s message. The Holy Father was preaching a homily at Friday morning’s Mass at the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence. Commenting on the day’s Gospel reading on the call of Matthew, he noted that the publicans, like Mathew the tax collector, were considered double sinners as they were attached to money and were traitors ,collecting taxes for the Roman emperor. But when Jesus looked upon Matthew with mercy, the man at the tax collector’s table sensed something new and awesome - an invitation. He was filled with joy, but also with doubt, torn between the call of Jesus and his attachment to money, so well depicted by the 17th century Italian painter Caravaggio. The Holy Father explained that it was a profound spiritual experience in which Mathew said ‘yes’ to the mercy of Jesus and accepted it. There is another moment, the Pope said, when Jesus feasts with sinners, where the mercy of God transforms life. After the two moments - the awe of encounter and the feast – comes the daily job, of announcing the Gospel, the Pope explained. And this work must be nurtured by the memory of the first encounter as well as the feast, that should make us go and invite friends to join in Lord’s feast that changed our lives. The parables speak of many who refused the Lord’s invitation and Jesus goes out searching for the poor and the sick to celebrate with them. Jesus feasts with sinners, offering them his grace. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” the Pope said, repeating the words of Jesus, urging all to allow themselves be looked upon by the mercy of Jesus.


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