Friday, September 23, 2016

Pope: "If God has forgiven me why do I do not forgive others? Am I greater than God? "

"If God has forgiven me why do I do not forgive others? Am I greater than God?". This was the question that Pope Francis posed to 30 thousand people present at the general audience today, summing up a catechesis dedicated to the mercy and forgiveness.

Greeted in the square by the songs of the "Catholic Women of Indonesia" group, the "My Country Choir" from Jakarta, dressed in traditional clothes, Francis said that “merciful love is the only way forward", "we must be more merciful, we must not speak ill of others, or tease others with criticism, with envy with jealousies, forgive, be merciful, live our life in love and give".

The Pope was inspired by the passage of Luke's Gospel (6.36 to 38) that inspired the motto of this Holy Year: Merciful as the Father. "The complete expression - he said - is:" Be merciful as your Father is merciful "(v. 36). This is not a trendy slogan, but a life commitment. To understand this expression, we can compare it with the parallel of Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus says, "Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (5:48). In the so-called Sermon on the Mount, which opens with the Beatitudes, the Lord teaches that perfection consists in love, fulfillment of all the precepts of the Law. In this same perspective, St. Luke explains that perfection is merciful love: to be perfect means to be merciful. Is a person who is not merciful perfect? No! Is a person who is not merciful good? No! Goodness and perfection are rooted in mercy. Of course, God is perfect. However, if we consider it as such, it becomes impossible for men to tend towards that absolute perfection. Instead, having Him before our eyes as merciful, allows us to better understand perfection and urges us to be as He is full of love, compassion, mercy".

"But I wonder: are the words of Jesus are realistic? Is it really possible to love as God loves and be merciful like Him? If we look at the history of salvation, we see that the whole revelation of God is a ceaseless and untiring love for mankind, God is like a father or a mother who loves with an unfathomable love and pours it out plentifully on every creature. Jesus' death on the Cross is the culmination of the love story between God and man. Such a great love that only God can accomplish. It is clear that, compared to this love that has no measure, our love will always be at fault. But when Jesus calls us to be merciful as the Father, he does not think about the amount! He asks his disciples to become a sign, channels, witnesses of his mercy. And the Church can only be a sacrament of God's mercy in the world, at all times and for all mankind. Every Christian, therefore, is called to be a witness of mercy, and this happens on the path of holiness. Think of how many saints have become merciful, for they allowed their hearts to be filled with divine mercy. They have given substance to the love of the Lord pouring it into the multiple needs of suffering humanity. This flourishing of many forms of charity reflects the merciful face of Christ. "

"We ask ourselves: What does it mean for the disciples to be merciful? And this is explained by Jesus with two verbs: "to forgive" (v. 37) and "give" (v. 38). Mercy is expressed, first of all, in forgiveness (...) It is the pillar that holds up the life of the Christian community, because it shows the gratuitousness with which God has loved us first. The Christian must forgive! But why? Because he was forgiven. All of us who are here today, in the streets, all of us, we have been forgiven. In our life we were all in need of God's forgiveness. And because we have been forgiven, we must forgive. But we recite this every day in the Our Father: "Forgive us our sins; Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". 

That is, forgive offenses, to forgive many things, because we have been forgiven many offenses, many sins. And so it is easy to forgive if God has forgiven me, why do I not forgive others? Am I greater than God? Do you understand that? This pillar of forgiveness shows us the gratuitousness of God, who loved us first. To judge and condemn our brethren who sin is wrong. Not because I do not want to recognize sin but  because condemning the sinner breaks the bond of fraternity with him and despises the mercy of God, who instead does not want to give up any of His children. We do not have the power to condemn our erring brother, we are not above him: rather we have a duty to recover the dignity of a child of the Father and accompany him on his journey of conversion.

To his Church, to us, Jesus also indicates a second pillar: "give". Forgiveness is the first pillar; Giving is the second pillar. "Give and it shall be given [...] with the measure with which you measure will be measured to you in return" (v. 38). God gives far beyond our merits, but He will be even more generous to those who on earth have been generous. Jesus does not say what will happen to those who do not give, but the image of the "measure" is a warning: with the measure that we take, we can determine how we will be judged, as we will be loved. If you look closely, there is a coherent logic to the extent that one receives from God, he should give of himself to his brother, and to the extent that he gives to his brother, he receives from God. "
"Merciful love is therefore the only way forward. We all need to be a little 'more merciful, not to speak ill of others, not to judge, not to "pluck" at the other with criticism, with envy, jealousy. No! Forgive, be merciful, live our life in love and giving. It - love and this love - allows Jesus' disciples not to lose the identity received from Him, and to recognize themselves as children of the same Father. The love that we - that is us - practice in life, should reverberate with that merciful love that will never end (cf. 1 Cor 13.1 to 12). But do not forget this: mercy and blessing; forgiveness and giving. So the heart grows bigger, it widens in love. Instead selfishness, anger, shrivels the heart, small, small, small and hardens it like a stone. What do you prefer? A heart of stone? I ask you, answer: [crowd: "No!"] I can’t hear you ... [ "No!"] A heart full of love? [ "Yes!"] If you prefer a heart full of love, be merciful!".

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