(Vatican Radio) Mercy and forgiveness are not just nice words, but must be put into practice in our daily lives. That was Pope Francis message to pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday for his weekly general audience.
Philippa Hitchen reports:
Reflecting on the opening of the Holy Door of Mercy, which has been taking place in churches and cathedrals around the world, as well as here in Rome this week, Pope Francis said he wanted the Jubilee to be an experience shared by all people. Noting that the first door was opened in the heart of Africa, during his visit to the Central African Republic, the Pope said Rome is the visible symbol of that mystery of communion between the Universal and each local Church.
In the same way, he said, mercy and forgiveness are not just nice words, but they are visible signs that faith has transformed our hearts. In our daily lives, the Pope said, we must never grow tired of loving and forgiving others as God loves and forgives us.
The Pope recalled Jesus’ own words, when he said “I am the door: whoever enters through me will be saved”. Going through the Holy Door then, is a sign of our trust in the Lord who did not come to judge, but rather to save us. Speaking off the cuff, the Pope said make sure that no-one asks you to pay for going through that door, because you don’t pay for salvation and Jesus is for free!
Going through the Holy Door, Pope Francis continued, is a sign of our conversion of heart and as we go through, we must also remember to keep the door of our hearts wide open. Just as the Holy Door stays open as a sign of the welcome that God reserves for each one of us, so the door of our hearts must always be open - to include even those people who annoy us most.
The Pope said the Sacrament of Confession is an important sign of the Jubilee as through it we can experience directly God’s mercy and forgiveness. Through Confession, he said, we find God the Father who understands our limits and our contradictions. When we confess our sins, he said, Jesus rejoices and draws closer to us, urging us to proceed without discouragement.
Pope Francis acknowledged it’s not easy to forgive – how often, he said, people say “Father, I can’t forgive my neighbour, my colleague, my mother-in-law or sister-in-law”. It’s not easy to forgive through our strength alone, he concluded, but if we open our hearts to welcome God’s mercy for us, then we in turn are able to forgive others.
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