- Author: Pope Francis | Hardcover : 176 pages | ISBN-13 : 978-0399588631
In his first book published as Pope, and in conjunction with the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis here invites all humanity to an intimate and personal dialogue on the subject closest to his heart—mercy—which has long been the cornerstone of his faith and is now the central teaching of his papacy.
In this conversation with Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli, Francis explains—through memories from his youth and moving anecdotes from his experiences as a pastor—why “mercy is the first attribute of God.” God “does not want anyone to be lost. His mercy is infinitely greater than our sins,” he writes. As well, the Church cannot close the door on anyone, Francis asserts—on the contrary, its duty is to go out into the world to find its way into the consciousness of people so that they can assume responsibility for, and move away from, the bad things they have done.
I started reading this book a week ago, seeking to end the year knowing more about God and trying to get closer to Him. It’s been on my TBR for two months and when I was searching what to read next , it popped up.
In this book we learn what kind of God the Pope believes in. It’s not the God of punishment and anger but the God of love and above all else, the God of mercy.
God is experienced and referred to in many forms like omnipotence, patience and kindness but there’s one that is true to Him: mercy. While reading bible verses, sometimes we interpret Him as being vengeful which is far different from being merciful. For example, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26) tells us to let go of our anger before the sun sets, so we can wake joyfully the next day without resentment. A lot of people have misinterpreted this quote as an instruction to hold onto your anger.
Mercy is what connects people to God, not anger or hate. God’s mercy is the anchor that stops people from spiraling into a life of sin. It reminds them that life has meaning. God’s mercy allows people to remember that they’ll always be loved and their attempts to live righteously aren’t in vain. When people repent to gain God’s love, they strive to live better lives and make the world a better place. Faith in the mercy of God makes people want to help others as well. As it says in Psalm 145:7-9, “He executes justice for the oppressed; he gives food to the hungry.” God also tells us that he’ll answer us when asked, which stops people from trying to take matters into their own hands. God’s ability to show mercy rather than cause destruction is also a sign of his power. The same goes for humankind. That’s why God sent Jesus to be an example for humankind, so we could learn from a being in our own form.
My main takeaway in this book is that humans aren’t divine beings like God. We can never be as merciful, patient or loving as He is. However, by following Jesus’ example we can learn to be compassionate towards each other. We should get involved in the what’s happening around us. Let’s try to reach out and touch more people’s lives. The most difficult times to be merciful are when you’re hurt or feel like you’ve suffered some injustice. At those times, it’s tempting to seek revenge. But the Gospel teaches us, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) If we don’t, we run the risk of falling into, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” which only leads to a never-ending cycle of violence. We should always be guided by love.