Monday, September 12, 2016

Pope Francis: No sinner is ever beyond the love of God

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus address, June 15, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.On Sunday Pope Francis said that God shows us, through parables, the merciful love of the Father, who rejoices over every sinful person who returns to him.
“The message of the Gospel today gives us great hope and we can summarize it thus: there is no sin into which we have fallen, from which, by the grace of God, we can not rise again; there is not an irretrievable individual, because God never ceases to want our good,” he said, “even when we sin!”

In his Sept. 11 message for the Angelus, Pope Francis talked about the three parables in the day's Gospel, which was from Luke 15. 

Christ tells three parables  – the shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep to find the lost one, the woman who searches for her lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son –  in answer to the scribes and Pharisees who criticize him, saying, “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Each of the parables reveal the heart of God, the Pope said, explaining how each parable uses the words, “rejoice together, to party.”

“The pastor called friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost' (v. 6); the woman calls together her friends and neighbors saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I lost' (v. 9); the father says to his son: 'It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found' (v. 32),” Francis explained.

“With these three stories, Jesus would have us understand that God the Father is the first to have a welcoming attitude toward sinners.”

Pope Francis said that what is most striking about the parable of the prodigal son is not the sad story of a young man who left his father and fell into sin, but his decision to “arise” and go to his father.

“The way back home is the way of hope and new life. God awaits to forgive us out on the road, waiting for us patiently, he sees us when we are still far away, he runs towards us, embraces us, forgives us. So is God! So is our Father! And his pardon erases the past and regenerates us in love,” the Pope said.

“When we sinners convert,” he continued, “we do not find God waiting for us with reproaches and hardness, because God saves, he gathers us home with joy and partying.” 

The joy of God fits in with the Church's celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said. It is the “same term 'jubilee!' That is, jubilation!”

After the Angelus, Pope Francis asked for special prayers for Gabon, a country in central Africa which has been experiencing increased violence and riots after the results of a narrow Aug. 31 presidential election were challenged.

“I entrust to the Lord the victims of the clashes and their families. I join the bishops of the first African country to invite the parties to reject all violence and to always aim for the common good. I encourage everyone, particularly Catholics, to be builders of peace within the law, in dialogue and fraternity,” Francis said.

The Pope also talked about Ladislao Bukowinski, a 20th century Catholic priest who was beatified Sunday in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.

“Persecuted for his faith,” Pope Francis said, Blessed Ladislao Bukowinski “always showed great love for the weakest and neediest and his testimony appears as a distillation of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”

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