Often when I open the USCCB website where I find the lectionary readings for the day there is a line that jumps out from the page and calls for my attention. Today I didn’t have to look too deeply as it was already italicized. The sentence from chapter 12 of Matthew’s gospel has God saying, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” I thought immediately of Pope Francis and the focus early in his pontificate which has continued unabated. He even wrote a more than one book about mercy so it’s very easy to quote him on the subject. Here is something from his homily in 2013 on Divine Mercy Sunday that reminds us of the fact that even the closest friends of Jesus needed mercy for their failings – and they got it!
Let us…remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him, “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in Me.” Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus and he weeps. How beautiful this gaze of Jesus – how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!