Mercy and the Gospel of Life (en español)
By Tom Grenchik
June 21, 2013On the same day that we would observe as Father’s Day in the United States, our spiritual father, Pope Francis, celebrated a Sunday morning Mass for Evangelium Vitae Day, culminating a multi-day celebration of the Gospel of Life. From St. Peter’s Square to the Tiber River, pilgrims from all around the world gathered to hear the Holy Father’s reflections on the great gift of human life.
Pope Francis proclaimed: “In this Eucharist, in the Year of Faith, let us thank the Lord for the gift of life in all its forms, and at the same time let us proclaim the Gospel of Life.” The Gospel of Life, also known as Evangelium Vitae, is the famous pro-life encyclical by Blessed John Paul II that not only inspired great confidence in spite of an overwhelming “culture of death,” but also inspired great hope in God’s mercy when we have sinned against life.
Reflecting on the day’s Mass readings, Pope Francis retold the story of King David: “King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. King David’s adultery is one example of this. Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. We heard how the prophet says to David: ‘Why have you done evil in the Lord’s sight? (cf. 2 Sam 12:9).’ The King is forced to face his deadly deeds; he recognizes them and he begs forgiveness: ‘I have sinned against the Lord!’ (v. 13). The God of mercy, who desires life, then forgives David, restores him to life.”
If there is one message that continues to be repeated by our Holy Father, it is the message of God’s unfailing mercy. No matter what we have done, if we truly repent, he wants nothing more than to forgive, heal and restore us.
Later in his homily, Pope Francis reflected further on forgiveness: “Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does he let the woman approach but he even forgives her sins, saying: ‘Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little’ (Lk 7:47). Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God, the one who brings life amid deeds of death, sin, selfishness and self-absorption. Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God. This was the experience of the woman who anointed the feet of the Lord with ointment: she felt understood, loved, and she responded by a gesture of love: she let herself be touched by God’s mercy, she obtained forgiveness and she started a new life.”
When we experience God’s mercy and forgiveness, we experience a renewed awareness of our goodness and dignity. God heals us and makes us whole, so that we, in turn, can love others and help them realize their own dignity. Especially in our pro-life witness, let us never fail to be messengers of God’s Divine Mercy.
Tom Grenchik is Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the Church’s efforts to promote forgiveness and healing after abortion, visit HopeAfterAbortion.com.