The Missionaries of Mercy, appointed by Pope Francis in the context of the present Jubilee Year, are another tool to bring sinners closer to God's forgiveness, to welcome the repentant and to invite to conversion. Jesús Higueras, parish priest of Santa María de Caná (Pozuelo) and Missionary of Mercy, explains their functions.
– Jesús Higueras Esteban
For children preparing for their First Communion, and for many of the young people who participate in Confirmation catechesis, Pope St. John Paul II is a historical figure, recent yes, but not connected to any of their life experience. For previous generations this holy Pontiff is the Pope of our youth, the Pope of our vocation, the Pope who has marked the main milestones of the first part of our life. Because of his Polish origin, he was deeply sensitized to the revelations of St. Faustina Kowalska, to the point that we could say that he is the Pope of Divine Mercy.
Contemplation of Mercy
Therefore, we can see as a continuity with the Pontificate of John Paul II the desire expressed by Pope Francis at the beginning of Lent 2015 to convoke a Jubilee Year dedicated to the contemplation of the Mercy of God. It is an idea that he has repeated to us since the beginning of his Pontificate. Already in his first Angelus on March 17, 2013 he told us: "Let us not forget this word: God never tires of forgiving. Never. 'And, Father, what is the problem?' The problem is that we get tired, we don't want to, we get tired of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but we, sometimes, we get tired of asking for forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire. He is a loving Father who always forgives, who has a merciful heart for all of us. And let us also learn to be merciful to everyone. Let us invoke the intercession of Our Lady, who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man".. He has repeated this message in different ways over the years.
But we were all surprised by the Pope's announcement in number 18 of the Bull Misericordiae Vultus in which he said that "During Lent of this Holy Year, I intend to send out the Missionaries of Mercy. They will be a sign of the Church's maternal solicitude for the People of God, so that they may enter deeply into the richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. They will be priests to whom I will give the authority to forgive also the sins that are reserved to the Apostolic See, so that the breadth of their mandate may become evident. Above all, they will be a living sign of how the Father welcomes those who seek his forgiveness. They will be Missionaries of Mercy because they will be the artisans of an encounter charged with humanity, a source of liberation, rich in responsibility, in order to overcome obstacles and take up again the new life of Baptism. They will allow themselves to be led in their mission by the words of the Apostle: 'God subjected all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all' (Rom 11:32). All, then, without excluding anyone, are called to perceive the call to mercy. Let the missionaries live this call conscious of being able to fix their gaze on Jesus, 'merciful high priest and worthy of faith'" (Rom 11:32). (Hb 2, 17). These words encapsulate all that the Pope expects of us so that the Mercy of God may be felt everywhere during this Year. This new figure of the "Missionaries of Mercy" brings the Jubilee and the graces that accompany it closer to the Eternal City.
First of all, he says that this experience is ecclesial, it is the Church that sends us, we do not go on our own but, like the Apostles, we are also sent to "to announce a year of the Lord's favor". The Church, as Mother, wants to watch over all her children, both those who live in the paternal house and those who, for very different reasons and in very diverse circumstances, have distanced themselves from her. This is a year for everyone, whether from near or far, to listen to the message of salvation of Jesus Christ, Son of God, a message of mercy and understanding.
Jesús Higueras Estebanis parish priest of St. Mary of Cana.