"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
"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".
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!".