On the Mercy of God
Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 2002 hits
Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
In today’s liturgy we read chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, which contains 3 parables of mercy: that of the lost sheep, that of the lost coin, and then the longest of all the parables, unique to St. Luke, that of the of the father and the 2 sons, the “prodigal” son and the son who thinks he is “just,” who thinks he is holy. All 3 of these parables speak of God’s joy. God is joyful. This is interesting: God is joyful! And what is God’s joy? It is God’s joy to pardon, God’s joy is to pardon! It is the joy of a shepherd who finds his little sheep; the joy of a woman who finds her coin; it is the joy of a father who welcomes back into his house the son who was lost – it was as if he were dead and had come back to life, had come back home. Here is the whole Gospel! Here! Here is the whole Gospel, the whole of Christianity! But understand that it is not sentiment, it is not “do-goodism”! On the contrary, mercy is the true power that can save man and the world from the “cancer” of sin, moral evil, spiritual evil. Love alone fills the voids, the negative abysses that evil opens in the heart of history. Only love can do this, and this is God’s joy!
Jesus is all mercy, all love: he is God made man. Each of us, each of us, is that lost sheep, that lost coin; each of us is that son who has squandered his freedom following idols, mirages of happiness, and has lost everything. But God does not forget us, the Father never abandons us. He is a patient father, he is always waiting for us! He respects our freedom, but he always remains faithful. And when we return to him, he welcomes us as his children into his house because he never ceases, not even for a moment, to wait for us, with love. And his heart celebrates for every child that returns. It celebrates because it is joy. God has this joy when one of us sinners goes to him and asks forgiveness.
What is the danger? It is that we presume to be just, and judge others. We judge God too because we think that he ought to castigate sinners, condemn them to death, instead of forgiving them. This is how we court the danger of remaining outside the Father’s house! Like that older brother of the parable, who, instead of being happy because his brother had returned, gets angry with the father who welcomed him and celebrates. If there is no mercy in our heart, the joy of forgiveness, we are not in communion with God, even if we observe every precept, because it is love that saves, not merely following precepts. It is the love of God and neighbor that fulfills all the commandments. And this is God’s love, his joy: forgiveness. He always waits for us! Maybe someone has something heavy in his heart: “But I did this, I did that… .” He is waiting for you! He is a father: he is always waiting for us!
If we live by the law “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth for a tooth,” we will never get out of the spiral of evil. The Devil is clever, and he dupes us into thinking that with our human justice we can save ourselves and the world. In reality, only God’s justice can save us! And God’s justice is revealed in the cross: the cross is God’s judgment on all of us and this world. But how does God judge us? By giving his life for us! This is the supreme act of justice that defeated the Prince of this world once and for all; and this supreme act of justice is also the supreme act of mercy. Jesus calls all of us to follow this road: “Be merciful, as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). I will ask you to do something now. In silence, everyone, let us all think… everyone think of a person with whom we are not in good stead, with whom we are angry, whom we dislike. Let us think of this person and in silence, at this moment, let us pray for this person and become merciful with this person. [There is a moment of silence for the prayer proposed by the Holy Father.]
Let us now call upon the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy.
[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in Italian and Spanish. In Italian he said:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday in Argentina José Gabriel Brochero, a priest of the Diocese of Córdoba, who was born in 1840 and died in 1914, was beatified. Moved by the love of Christ he dedicated himself to his flock, to bring everyone to the Kingdom of God, with immense mercy and zeal for souls. He lived among the people and encouraged many of them make spiritual retreats. He traveled many kilometers, riding through the mountains with his mule that he called “Ugly Face,” because it was not very nice looking. He even traveled in the rain. He was courageous! But you too, with this rain, you are here, you are brave. What an impressive group! At the end this newly beatified priest was blind and suffering from leprosy, but he was full of joy, the joy of the Good Shepherd, the joy of the Merciful Shepherd!
[Then in Spanish the Holy Father said:]
I would like to join in the joy of the Church in Argentina for the beatification of this exemplary pastor, who, on the back of his mule, tirelessly traveled the rough roads of his parish, seeking to bring the people who had been entrusted to him to God. Let us ask Christ, through the intercession of this newly beatified priest, that he increase the number of priests, who, in imitation of Fr. Brochero, give their lives to the service of evangelization, kneeling before the Crucified and bearing witness everywhere to the love and mercy of God.
Today in Turin concludes the Social Week of Italian Catholics, which took as its theme “Family: Hope and Future for Italian Society.” I greet all the participants and I am glad to see the great commitment of families and for families in the Church in Italy. It is a powerful stimulus for institutions and for the whole country. Have courage! Forward on this path of the family!
I greet with affection all the pilgrims who are present here today: the families, the parish groups, the young people. In particular I greet the faithful of Dresano, Taggì di Sotto and Torre Canne di Fasano; l’UNITALSI (National Italian Union of Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) of Ogliastra, the children of Trent who will soon receive First Communion, the young people from Florence and the Italy Spider Club.
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]