Pope Francis’ mission of mercy
Some days I think I have a tough job as the father of five children and editor of an important monthly magazine for Catholic business leaders. But what if Jesus Himself appeared and gave you this task: “Prepare the world for my return”? Now that would be a tough job!
During a series of visions, which began in 1931, the Lord asked St. Faustina Kowalska to have an image painted as she saw him. This Divine Mercy Image graces many Catholic churches around the world today. But less known is the fact that Jesus told her, “You will prepare the world for my final coming.”
In the late 1960s, the archbishop of Krakow asked his top theologian to examine Faustina’s writings, which were popular but not yet approved by the Church. Shortly after they were authenticated 10 years later, that archbishop was elected bishop of Rome. Needless to say, Pope St. John Paul II recognized the truth contained in Jesus’ revelation to this simple Polish nun.
Why would Jesus ask her to prepare the world for his return? Because now is the time of mercy! We don’t know when Jesus will make his final return, but it’s clear that right after we draw our final breath, we’ll meet him face-to-face. Will we meet our just judge or our Merciful Savior? That’s up to us, actually. We choose our destiny by how we live our lives here and now.
John Paul knew this well. Long before his death, he became known as the Pope of Mercy. Not surprisingly, Pope Benedict XVI continued to unpack the theology of God’s mercy in his writings and addresses, and Pope Francis has hit the “mercy accelerator” since his election more than two years ago.
“Do not be afraid to look into [Jesus’] eyes, full of infinite love for you. Open yourselves to his merciful gaze, so ready to forgive all your sins. A look from him can change your lives and heal the wounds of your souls,” Pope Francis said in his message for World Youth Day 2016, to be held next summer in Krakow — the home of Faustina and John Paul II.
World Youth Day will be one of the most significant events during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins on Dec. 8. Why a Year of Mercy? Because Jesus wants to lavish his mercy right now on a world so blighted by sin. Just scan today’s headlines and you’ll see what I mean.
The truth is that we can all take part in the job given to St. Faustina only 80 years ago. Give yourself completely to Our Merciful Savior and let others know that hope can only be found in Him!
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.