Vatican City, 30 January 2016 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the first of his Jubilee audiences to the theme "Mercy and Mission". The Jubilee audiences are an initiative of the Holy Father during the Holy Year, enabling those who are unable to attend the Wednesday general audiences to participate in his catechesis. On this occasion more than 22,000 people were present in St. Peter's Square.
"Day by day we enter into the life of this Holy Year of Mercy. With His grace, the Lord guides our steps as we cross the Holy Door and comes towards us so as to stay always with us, despite our shortcomings and our contradictions. Let us never tire of asking His forgiveness, as when we are weak His closeness makes us stronger and allows us to live our faith with greater joy".
Referring to the close link between mercy and mission, Francis underlined that as Christians we have the responsibility to be missionaries of the Gospel. "When we receive good news or have a good experience it is natural that we wish to communicate it to others. … The joy we feel inspires us to do so. It should be the same when we encounter the Lord. Indeed, the concrete sign we have truly encountered Jesus is the joy we feel in communicating this to others too. This is not proselytism, but rather it is a gift: I give you what makes me joyful. Reading the Gospel we see that this was also the experience of the first disciples. … Encountering Jesus is the same as encountering His love. This love transforms us and makes us able to transmit to others the strength that it gives us".
"We could say that the day of our Baptism each one of us is given another name alongside the one we receive from our mother and father, and this name is 'Christopher', which means 'Christ-bearer'. The name of our approach, as bearers of Christ's joy and mercy", remarked the Holy Father. "The Christian is a bearer of Christ. … But the mercy we receive from the Father is not given to us as a private consolation, but rather makes us instruments to enable others to receive the same gift. There is a wonderful circularity between mercy and mission".
"Living mercy makes us missionaries of mercy, and being missionaries enables us increasingly to grow in God's mercy. So, let us take seriously the fact of being Christians, and let us commit ourselves to living as believers, because only in this way may the Gospel touch the people's hearts, opening them to receive the grace of love", concluded the Holy Father.