Misericordiae Vultus: A Path to Encounter and Conversion for Prodigal Sons and Older Brothers Alike

Authored by Martha Fernández-Sardina in Issue #2.1 of The Catechetical Review

Every new year brings new hopes, dreams, promises, and possibilities, as does the Year of Mercy! The Holy Father asks us to respond wholeheartedly to the call for a widespread and generous outpouring of mercy, despite the fact that this emphasis on mercy might appear to minimize the demands of justice and the law. Some may be surprised at this, as were the pharisees and scribes at the time of Jesus. At the same time, though, millions of Catholics and non-Catholics are delighted as they observe Pope Francis and his announcement of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

How Does This Document About Mercy Affect Us?

During this Year of Mercy—Annus Misericordiae—we will contemplate and reflect the Face of Mercy, Christ’s Face, or the Misericordiae Vultus. We plunge into this contemplation in order to understand and become that which we contemplate, so all might find a path to conversion, a path home to our Father. The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy outlines Pope Francis’ pastoral focus for the New Evangelization. In it, he stresses mercy as the core of a life-altering Gospel that can lead to deep metanoia, thus transforming our hearts into the meek and humble heart of Jesus, full of mercy and compassion. The pope believes, prophetically perhaps, that contemplating the face of mercy and allowing ourselves to be inwardly transformed by it will enable us to “be merciful like the Father” (cf. Lk 6:36), as the motto for the Jubilee Year pronounces. Thus transformed, we will become instruments of conversion and transformation among “insiders” and “outsiders” alike, and thereby change the world. The bull, Misericordiae Vultus, states:

"Jesus speaks several times of the importance of faith over and above the observance of the law. It is in this sense that we must understand his words when, reclining at table with Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners, he says to the pharisees raising objections to him, “Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:13). Faced with a vision of justice as the mere observance of the law that judges people simply by dividing them into two groups – the just and sinners – Jesus is bent on revealing the great gift of mercy that searches out sinners and offers them pardon and salvation."[i]

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: St. Thomas More and the Struggle for Virtue
By Dr. James Pauley
Free Sitting alone in his prison cell in the Tower of London, awaiting his execution, Sir Thomas More wrote a prayer in the margins of his prayer book. “Give me thy grace, good Lord, to set the world at naught; to set my mind fast upon thee, and not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths.” [1] In the minds of many throughout Europe in 1535, Sir Thomas... Read more
Catholic Social Teachings and the Virtue of Mercy: Living the Social Dimension of Christian Discipleship
By Dr. Donald Asci
Last year while preparing to speak at a diocesan event on Catholic Social Teachings (henceforth CST) I came across a link on the USCCB website that offered a series of quotes from Pope Francis on the CST. Thinking I might find a pithy quote to use in my address, I opened the file only to find that it contained an overwhelming 378 pages of... Read more
From the Shepherds: Love, Whatever the Cost
By Pope Francis
Free As we reflect in this issue of The Catechetical Review on “living the virtues,” we recall St. Paul’s words that faith, hope, and love remain, “but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). For the benefit of our catechetical readers, we are reprinting here the homily of his Holiness for the meeting of reflection and spirituality, “... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now