Monday, February 8, 2016

"The Name of God is Mercy"

Roberto Benigni Promotes Pope Francis' New Book

Stories touch hearts. Once a heart is touched, it stands open to the possibility of healing and hope.

This is one of the main reasons people around the world are drawn to Pope Francis: He is a masterful storyteller. Enticingly entitled The Name of God is Mercy, the pope's new book provides the most recent evidence of his gift for speaking to the soul of his readers.

This accessible and engaging interview has the potential to soften even the most hardened cynics. Indeed, for those who are courageous enough to maintain "at least an openness" to letting Christ into their lives (EG, n. 3), this book has to potential to open new doors. Whether it be for Lenten spiritual reading, an Easter gift for a loved one, or a fresh way to enter into the Jubilee Year, commit to picking up The Name of God is Mercy as soon as possible!

Here is a sampling of the kinds of stories that leap off the pages:
  • Pope Francis' own life-changing confession. The Holy Father's revisits this pivotal event from his teenage years--an experience which continues to inform his own appreciation for Reconciliation. The story invites the reader to consider listening for Christ speaking through this great Sacrament of Mercy.
  • The back story and definitive explanation about the pope's famous line, "Who am I to judge?" A must read, given the ongoing obfuscation of what the Holy Father really thinks about this pressing issue of the day.

  • Colorful language to provoke new thoughts about seemingly old ideas: Further explication of the Church as a "field hospital"; discussion of Confession as neither a "torture chamber" nor a "dry cleaner"; the call for a "visceral love" of the outcast and the imprisoned.
Somehow it seemed perfect that Roberto Benigni, the Academy Award Winner, served as a leading pitch person for the pope's book. After all, Benigni and Bergoglio are both keenly aware that "Life is Beautiful." Indeed, Pope Francis' focus on mercy has helped people start to see that all beautiful story lines take on similar features.

Life-changing stories ultimately center on a self-sacrificing love which is stronger than death; they revolve around a gift of self which nurtures new life in the other. And, in the end, there is one Story of Stories that Pope Francis returns to over and over again.

It is a true story, about the merciful love of the Son of God poured out for us on the Cross--while we were still sinners, as St. Paul reminds us.

This was our Father's sacrifice. This was his gift to us. This is why his name is Mercy.