Pope Francis reminds us that the life of the Church “is authentic and credible only when she becomes a convincing herald of mercy (that) knows no bounds and extends to everyone without exception.

“God’s justice is His mercy. Mercy is not opposed to justice, but rather expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert and believe. At times how hard it seems to forgive. And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart. To let go of anger, wrath, violence and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully.”

“I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.”

“A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient.”

“Together let us pray to the Virgin Mary that She helps us .. to walk in faith and charity, ever trusting in the Lord’s mercy.”

Throughout his papacy so far, Pope Francis has consistently shown himself to be a messenger of mercy. This has been evident not only in the words he has spoken, but also in the deeds he has done – for example, in the strong rumour that he sometimes go out of the Vatican at night to give money to the poor; a rumour which, when directly asked about it in an interview, Archbishop Krajewski refused to deny.

In many ways, the active deeds of the Holy Father speak even more loudly than his words – although these are already powerful. Sometimes, it is easy to simply ‘say’ the right thing – much harder to actually ‘do’ the right thing. But in doing so, we lead by example and this is always a very powerful witness. It is also contagious; good deeds bring about further good deeds in those touched by them.

There are many examples of the Holy Father reaching out to those in the margins of society and defending their human dignity with compassion and kindness – people such as the poor, the imprisoned, the homeless, the disfigured, those weary beneath the weight of so many burdens. On those occasions when we see such people to whom the Pope has reached out, it always appears that his actions have moved them and, perhaps, changed them in some deep way. Even watching all of this through the media, it is difficult not to be moved by what we see.

The old word for this experience – that of the Holy Father, and that of us watching him in action and being touched by what we see – is ‘compassion’.

Compassion literally means ‘to suffer with’; to experience a little of the pain and burden of another, to see in him the living Christ and our neighbour, as the Gospel tells us. We are also told that ‘the Lord is compassion and love; slow to anger, abounding in mercy’.

To truly believe that and to live it out in our life is not always easy – but it is always very powerful.

Pope Francis has already told us many times and in many ways why this message matters to him, why it is a real and living thing – “The mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality”.

And if that is true and we benefit by the Divine Mercy, then it is also true that we are obliged to do as the Lord tells us  – ‘be merciful, as your father in Heaven is merciful’. This is nothing more than a call back to the Beatitudes –

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’.