Misericordiae Vultus 12: The Beating Heart of the Gospel

head of ChristMercy is one topic which needs repeated presentation.

12. The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. The Spouse of Christ must pattern her behavior after the Son of God who went out to everyone without exception. In the present day, as the Church is charged with the task of the new evangelization, the theme of mercy needs to be proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action.

Mercy likely needs to be preached at least as strongly to the household of the Church as to anyone. In a time when the Church, among other institutions, has lost credibility, mercy is the road back. At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive, but consider all the authorities who have lost face with people over the past several decades. Where has been the mercy of Eurasian socialism, big banks, adventurism in government, and other institutions that relied on strength, influence, and wealth? We cannot stand with such monoliths–it would be the death of us.

It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father.

I think mercy is more than a means to a successful evangelization. It is part of our very nature as associated with Christ. We must imitate. We must put ourselves n the place of the bridegroom, the elder brother, the master who washes feet, the rabbi who forgives, the Lord who urges us on in his own example.

The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of one’s self. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.

And let’s be clear about this: the oasis is not for the comfort of believers as much as it is a refuge for those we invite to join us.

The highlighted text is © copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. You can find the document in its entirety on the Vatican website here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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