“How many times we say: “But he is a sinner, he has done this, and that …”, and we judge others. And you? Each one of us should ask himself: Yes, he is a sinner, and I?”
Pope Francis observed this during his address at this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, while stressing that while we are all sinners, we all have the possibility of receiving God’s forgiveness, His mercy.
After having reflected on God’s mercy in the Old Testament, Francis’ catechesis today instead meditated on how Jesus Himself brought it to its fulfilment.
Jesus, the Argentine Pope underscored, is God’s mercy made flesh, which He expressed, realized and communicated always, in every moment of His earthly life, and His love and forgiveness is without limits.
“Therefore,” Francis said, “we must not be afraid to acknowledge ourselves sinners, to confess ourselves sinners, because every sin was born by the Son on the Cross.”
“Jesus did not bring hatred, He did not bring enmity: He brought us love! – a great love, a heart open to all, to all of us! – a love that saves!”
“Jesus,” Francis also stressed, “makes visible a love open to everyone: no one excluded! It is open to everyone without limits.”
The Jesuit Pontiff pointed out that all four Gospels attest that from the beginning of His ministry, Jesus manifested Himself as the Messiah who takes on the human condition, and who expressed God’s promises of forgiveness, joy, and a new life to sinners and those on the margins.
“All that Jesus did after His Baptism was the realization of the initial program: to take to everyone the love of God that saves,” the Pope said, stressing that Jesus is really “the beginning of the time of mercy for the whole of humanity!”
We can contemplate the great mystery of this love even more clearly by turning our gaze to Jesus crucified.
On the Cross, Francis said, Jesus presents “the sin of the world, the sin of everyone, my sins, your sins” to the Father’s mercy, and then, “with the sins of the world, all our sins are cancelled.
“Nothing and no one remains excluded from this sacrificial prayer of Jesus,” Francis said, noting this means that we must not be afraid to acknowledge and confess ourselves sinners.
Francis reminded the crowds that when we repent and entrust ourselves to Him, we can be certain of being forgiven.
“The Sacrament of Reconciliation,” he said, “renders actual for each one the strength of the forgiveness that flows from the Cross and renews in our life the grace of mercy that Jesus acquired for us!”
The Pope urged all faithful to not be afraid of their past, miseries, or sins “for each of us has our own.”
“The power of the love of the Crucified,” Francis said, “knows no obstacles and is never exhausted, and this mercy cancels our miseries.”
The Holy Father concluded, praying that God grant us the grace to experience the power of the Gospel that transforms, forgives, and makes all new.
Presence of Lizzy Myers
As usual the General Audience concluded with praying the Pater Noster and the Pope imparting his Apostolic Blessing on all present and their loved ones.
Present at today’s audience was Elizabeth “Lizzy” Myers a five-year-old American girl from Lexington, Ohio, who is suffering from Usher’s Syndrome, and is not aware she is going blind.
It was on her ‘bucket list’ to see the Pope, as the syndrome will leave her eventually without sight or hearing. The little girl and her parents were given special seats and had a brief encounter with the Pontiff. During the encounter, the Holy Father spoke with them, touched Lizzy’s eyes with his hand, and blessed her.