Sunday, November 10, 2019

THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY BY POPE FRANCIS: Themes, Summary, and Analysis

The Name of God is Mercy is an exploration into the heart of Christianity in general and the Catholic faith in particular. This volume offers a reading experience like none other to anyone interested in the philosophy and ideologies of world religions. Andrea Tornielli, renowned Vatican journalist converses with the present Pope to answer some of the most crucial questions faced by our contemporary culture. In the introduction to the book, Andrea Tornielli affirms that mercy has always been at the centre of Pope Francis's preaching.

Andrea Tornielli paints a picture of Pope Francis at the beginning of the book. In this picture, we see Pope Francis celebrating his first Mass after his election as Bishop, at the church of St. Anna.

In his homily, the Pope refers to the Mercy exhibited by Jesus Christ and he tells the people that the strongest message given by Christ is the message of Mercy. In the introduction, through a specific reference to the Gospel According to John, the message of mercy is established as the central concern of the book.

"Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more." (John 8:11)

According to Pope Francis, "He overlooks no openings, no matter how small, in attempting to give the gift of forgiveness. God awaits us with open arms; we need only take a step toward him like the Prodigal Son." To substantiate the point, Andrea Tornielli refers to the novel To Every Man a Penny, in which the protagonist is a priest named Father Gaston. He faces a young German soldier to hear his confession. The young soldier is about to be put to death by the French revolutionaries. Before his death, the young man "confesses his passion for women and the numerous amorous adventures he has had." The priest advises the young man that if he wants to receive forgiveness from God, he should repent. The soldier openly states that he had enjoyed all the deeds he had committed. He doesn't have any repentance on the deeds he had done. The priest, Father Gaston asks, "But you are sorry that you are not sorry?"
The young man responds that indeed, he is. The soldier is sorry that he is not sorry. "That sorrow is the opening that allows the merciful priest to give the man absolution."

The Name of God is Mercy has nine chapters excluding the Introduction.
1. A Time for Mercy
2. The Gift of Confession
3. Looking For Even the Smallest Opening
4. A Sinner like Simon Peter
5. Too Much Mercy?
6. Shepherds, Not Scholars of the Law
7. Sinners Yes, Corrupt No
8. Mercy and Compassion
9. Living the Holy Year of Mercy

In each chapter, Andrea Tornielli asks Pope Francis questions regarding Mercy, Confession, How to put Mercy in practice, the question of absolution, is there a limit to Mercy?, the stand that should be taken by priests, the difference between sin and corruption, mercy and compassion, and the Catholic lifestyle through the Holy Year of Mercy respectively.

The Appendix of the book is the "Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy" or Misericordiae Vultus. The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy ( Iubilaeum Extraordinarium Misericordiae) is announced in this Bull of Indiction.

The Name of God is Mercy is originally written in Italian language and is translated by Oonagh Stransky, who has translated several writers such as Roberto Saviano, Pier Paolo Pasolini, etc. Published by Blue Bird Books for Life, The Name of God is Mercy is a volume handy to read while travelling. The small size of the book is also adequate in such circumstances. However, this is not a book for reading on buses or trains. 

The Name of God is Mercy calls for a deeper understanding of the most powerful qualities of God and our ultimate liberation from the chains of the world. Mercy is a contemporary subject, what we most need at this time of frustrating 'political correctness'. The topic is raised from the convictions of a person who has given hope to everyone on this planet, Pope Francis.  

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