Only mercy can redeem us…
Meditations this year have been entrusted by the Pope to the Portuguese priest and Biblical theologian and vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon, who is leading the meditations on the theme: “Praise of Thirst.”
This parable, he noted, which shows the father offering mercy to the son who did not deserve it, is about each one of us.
“Within us,” Fr. Tolentino said, “are feelings that are suffocated, things that need to be clarified, pathologies, countless threads that need to be connected.”
Noting there are many aspects of our lives that need reconciliation, he said, Jesus wants to give us His Word, and transform conflicts and fear.
“Only mercy, that excessive love that God teaches us, is able to redeem us,” he said.
The older son’s behavior, the Portuguese priest noted, helps us understand God’s mercy even more.
“Mercy,” he underscored, “is offering to another precisely what they do not deserve. It is difficult to define mercy precisely because it does not encase itself in one definition.” Mercy can be understood only, he went on to say, if we allow it to “incarnate itself ” within us “so that we might touch it.”
Concluding his reflections, Fr Tolentino expresses the fact that mercy is always excessive. The moderate person, the person who wants to play it safe, will never understand the Gospel of Mercy. This is because, “The Gospel of Mercy requires that our love be excessive” like the Father’s in the parable who understands everything without saying much. The Father shows us that mercy is gratuitous, it is the art of healing and rebuilding, the experience of forgiveness, the completely unexpected expression of tenderness. In the end, it is an excessive gift.
Whereas on Wednesday afternoon, the Pope focused on Jesus’ own struggle with human weakness and temptation.
During that 7th meditation, he stressed that our poverty is where Jesus intervenes.@ The greatest obstacle to the spiritual life is not our fragility, but our rigidity and self-sufficiency,” he suggested, saying we therefore must learn from our own thirst.
Originally, the Spiritual Exercises took place in the Vatican, but Pope Francis moved them to the retreat house, 16 miles outside of Rome.