For 2024, the Bishops of Malta and Gozo are proposing that as a country, and as Christians, we ought to reflect on the five gifts of God that Dun Karm Psaila, the national poet, reminds us of in Malta’s national anthem: sound judgement, mercy, health, unity and peace. This reflection is particularly significant as this year, Malta celebrates 60 years of independence and 50 years as a republic.

The five gifts that Dun Karm prays about and for in the second stanza of Malta’s National Anthem are sound judgement, mercy, health, unity and peace.

In this second reflection, I would like us to stop and think about the beautiful gift of mercy. We could say that mercy is the essence of these five gifts because mercy is a great gift of God through which we truly resemble our Creator. “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48) “who makes the sun shine on the evil as well as on the good, and sends rain on the just as well as on the unjust” (Mt 5:45).

The Lord is telling us that our love must be a love characterised by mercy, compassionate love, a tender love. All this is contained in one beautiful word, ‘mercy’. Being merciful towards others does not only mean helping them when they are in need but that your actions are such that your heart always beats as one with the heart of another. Mercy makes us truly rich. We need mercy so much; we need to show mercy to ourselves, to creation, and future generations. Let us also think of how the responsibility that we carry is not only to live well but to ensure that those who shall come after us will experience the fruit of mercy, love, care and the compassion we have for each other, for creation, and, hence, let us also be considerate to those who shall follow us.

My wish is that during Lent, we will have the beautiful experience of God’s mercy. After all, the Sacrament of Confession is the sacrament of God’s mercy towards us. Jesus tells us that if you do not forgive your brother, how can you expect God to forgive you? Jesus stresses this. When we ask for our sins to be forgiven, brothers and sisters, during Lent let us commit to forgiving each other and to being merciful towards one another.

✠ Charles Jude Scicluna
    Archbishop of Malta