The name of God is mercy – this is the title that Pope Francis gave the letter he wrote announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Again and again in the sacraments of the Church – the Mass, baptism, confirmation, Reconciliation or Confession, Anointing of the Sick – we have references to mercy!
The words of absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation begin; ‘God the Father of mercies’…
The words that accompany the anointing of a sick person in the sacrament of the Sick: ‘Through this Holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy’…
The Mass has many references to mercy:
The Penitential Rite: Lord have mercy / Christ have mercy; the absolution: ‘May almighty God have mercy on us … ;
The Gloria also includes references to mercy: ‘You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us/ you are seated at the right hand of the Father have mercy on us’;
Many of the Prefaces and Eucharistic Prayers have specific references to the mercy of God.
The Communion Rite clearly tells us that we are receiving the Body & Blood of Christ because of the loving unconditional mercy of God:
‘Deliver us Lord … by the help of your mercy’;
‘Lamb of God … have mercy on us’;
Before the priest receives Holy Communion he says a prayer silently which includes the words: ‘May the receiving of your Body and Blood … through your loving mercy’.
In calling a Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us to re-discover the truth that is ever-present in our lives and in our faith – the mercy of God.
In a world where there are so many broken promises, lost hopes, damaged lives and abandoned dreams, the Church calls us to be aware of the mercy of God, which brings hope, healing and forgiveness and can reconcile us to one another and to the God whose name is mercy. It is as if, in having so many references to mercy in the liturgies of the Church, God is doing His utmost to impress upon us the divine gift which is ours for the asking. Like the Prodigal Son we need only be on our way back to Him when He will run to meet us, embrace us and wrap us in His loving arms.
For you so loved the world that in your mercy, you sent us the Redeemer, to live like us in all things but sin so that you might love in us what you loved in your Son.