The episcopal motto of the new Pope’s coat of arms, Miserando atque Eligendo (“By having mercy and by making decisions [in following Christ]”; it could also read, “by showing compassion [the Lord called] and by choosing [to follow Him]). The motto is extracted from a homily of Saint Bede the Venerable (Homily 21) on a passage from the Gospel of Saint Matthew read in the breviary on the saint’s feast on 25 May: “Vidit ergo Iesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, Sequere me.” (Jesus looked at the publican, and because he looked with mercy and choosing, said to him, ‘Follow me.’)
Saint Bede said,
Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: ‘Follow me.’ Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men.
He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: ‘Follow me.’ This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him. Saint John tells us: “Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
“And he rose and followed him.” There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.
The coat of arms will change soon.