“Mercy can heal wounds and can change history. Open your heart to mercy! Divine mercy is stronger than the sins of men.… We know its power, when we recall the coming of the Innocent Son of God who became man to destroy evil with his forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the true King, but his power is completely different. His throne is the Cross. He is not a king who kills, but on the contrary, who gives life. His going toward everyone, especially the weakest, vanquishes loneliness and the deadly fate to which sin leads. Jesus Christ, with his closeness and tenderness, leads sinners into the place of grace and pardon. This is the mercy of God.”—Pope Francis
A toddler arguing with a parent will sometimes say, “When you’re little and I’m big…” Even at that young age, they perceive that power has something to do with size and strength, even if they don’t yet know the role that age and wisdom play. Sometimes we don’t completely outgrow this immature reaction to power. If we don’t have it, we want it. If we have it, we want to keep it. Power over another can become more important than power used for a good cause. When we’re too long without power, we think only of turning the tables on those people who are keeping us from moving forward. The religious leaders are convinced that Jesus is threatening their worldly power. “If we leave him alone, all will believe in him and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” They fail to recognize or can’t even imagine a world in which the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus will have a truly cosmic significance in God’s plan of salvation. The scandal of the cross, even of the incarnation, is that God was willing to forsake all power in order to reverse the direction of humanity. In powerlessness freely accepted, Jesus modeled for us a new way of life, one that can disarm power when lived well. We’ve seen this throughout history in the lives of the saints and other courageous people willing to stand in the face of injustice and offer mercy and forgiveness. It doesn’t discount the need for justice. Rather, a truly Christian response to violence and to power misused can break the cycle of revenge and violence.
— from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek