(18) Pope Francis has commissioned missionaries of mercy–clergy who are going into the world to be living signs of God’s mercy. The radical nature of his commission is that he has given these priests and bishops authority to pardon sins which formerly only the Pope could pardon.
Pope Francis refers to this as a “widening” of the mandate to show the mercy which already exists in the Church. But by widening the mandate, he declares that God’s mercy is available here and now, without complicated institutional procedures to bring it to pass.
We must not overlook the highly symbolic nature of the Pope’s words and actions. Everything he says and does reveals a deeper and more pervasive reality. By commissioning actual missionaries of mercy, Pope Francis is reminding the Church that it is meant to be a place of mercy everywhere and to everyone.
For non-Roman Christians, the Pope’s symbolic act reminds us that we are all commissioned by God to be missionaries of mercy–everywhere and to everyone. Close your eyes and let your heart imagine what it would look like if 2.18 billion Christians (the current estimated Christian population) went into the world each day as missionaries of mercy.
It takes your breath away!
[Note: the numbers at the beginning of each meditation correspond to the section of the Pope’s document on which it is based]