Year of Mercy: God’s Heartbeat

(12) This section of Pope Francis is so rich and compact, my first inclination was simply to post it verbatim.  I hope you will not fail to read it, even as you read my reflection below…

Calling mercy “the heartbeat of God,” this cardio-vascular image leads Pope Francis to speak of the Church’s commission to show mercy to everyone.  A heart beats to create life and the resultant movements of life everywhere in the body.

Similarly, God’s heart of mercy must beat in the Body of Christ, creating what Pope Francis calls “the first truth of love” moving the Church to be a “servant of love” mediated to all people.  No church is the Church when this love generated by mercy is not paramount and pervasive.

But when mercy is the leading edge and defining quality of the Church’s ministry, people can receive the Gospel because it is a life-offering message of hope (rooted in grace), not a life-denying–“turn or burn”–message of threat (rooted in legalism). 

Pope Francis puts it this way: “Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”

[Note: the numbers at the beginning of each meditation correspond to the section of the Pope’s document on which it is based]

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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