Pope Francis at Extraordinary Jubilee Audience: Be Reconciled With God
God never accepts possibility that someone could remain estranged from His love, as long as He finds in that person some sign of contrition for the evil he has committed.
Pope Francis has underlined the invitation of the Apostle St. Paul to “be reconciled to God”, saying it applies to all Christians, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The theme of reconciliation was central to his catechesis at his extraordinary Jubilee audience on Saturday morning in St. Peter’s Square. Throughout this Holy Year, the Pope is holding such audiences once a month. This Saturday's was also held in honor of members of the security services and their service to peace and reconciliation.
In his discourse, the Pope made a point of drawing on St. Paul’s words in the second letter to the Corinthians 5:20-21: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”
The Holy Father said God constantly offers us his forgiveness, and our sins can never keep us from God’s mercy. "Sin is really an expression of rejection of His love, with the consequence of closing in on ourselves, deluding ourselves of finding greater freedom and autonomy," the Pope said. "But far from God, we do not have a goal, and from being pilgrims in this world we become 'wanderers'."
He added: "A common saying is that when we sin, we 'turn away from God.' That's really how it is; the sinner sees only himself and pretends in this way to be self-sufficient; therefore, sin always spreads more distance between us and God, and this can become a chasm."
But rather than sins pushing God away from us, "in reality, by sinning we push ourselves away from Him," the Pope said. "But He, seeing us in danger, keeps searching for us. God never accepts the possibility that someone could remain estranged from His love, as long as He finds in that person some sign of contrition for the evil committed.”
The Holy Father went on to say that, in our sinfulness we can only return to God by freely accepting his grace. For this, he has given us his Son Jesus, whose cross is a bridge leading us back to the Father.
"Jesus comes to look for us like a good shepherd who is not content until he has not found the lost sheep (cf. Luke 15:4-6)," the Pope said. "He rebuilds the bridge which connects us to the Father and allows us to rediscover our dignity as sons and daughters. With the offer of his life, he has reconciled us to the Father and given us the gift of eternal life (cf. John 10:15). ‘Be reconciled to God!”
The Pope added that this Holy Year of Mercy is a time for each of us to accept this offer of reconciliation and, in our communities, to bring it to the world around us. "Someone told me a few days ago that in the world there are more enemies than friends, and I think he was right," the Pope said. "But no, we build bridges of reconciliation, also among us, beginning with one's own family."
"How many brothers have quarreled only to be removed from an inheritance. This will not do! This year is the year of reconciliation with God and with one another! The reconciliation is, in fact, also a service to peace, recognition of the fundamental rights of people, to solidarity and welcoming everyone."
Being reconciled with God, the Pope said, not only brings inner healing and peace, but also impels us to work for reconciliation within society at every level, and thus contribute to the building of a global culture of peace, justice and solidarity.
“Let us accept, therefore, the invitation to be reconciled to God to become new creatures and to be able to radiate His mercy among our brothers and sisters,” the Pope said.
The audience celebrated the Jubilee for members of the police and armed forces throughout the world. The Pope held them up as above all providing a service to "peace, security and reconciliation in society." At the end, he offered them a special welcome, especially those members present from Canada, Kenya, Korea, the Philippines, and the United States.
The Pope's praise for the security services came just days after Italian police arrested four people and issued arrest warrants for two more on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack on the Vatican and the Israeli Embassy in Rome.
Here below is the Vatican summary of his catechesis:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
During this Holy Year of Mercy, we are invited to take up Saint Paul’s exhortation to “be reconciled to Christ” (2 Cor 5:20). God constantly offers us his forgiveness; in our sinfulness we can only return to him by freely accepting his grace. For this, he has given us his Son Jesus, whose cross is a bridge leading us back to the Father. This Holy Year is a time for each of us to accept this offer of reconciliation and, in our communities, to bring it to the world around us. Being reconciled with God not only brings inner healing and peace, but also impels us to work for reconciliation within society at every level, and thus contribute to the building of a global culture of peace, justice and solidarity.
For this reason I am particularly pleased to welcome the members of the armed forces and police from throughout the world who are with us today. Dear friends, your demanding work is above all a service to peace, security and reconciliation in society. I encourage you never to lose heart before the difficulties and conflicts you encounter, but to grow always in faith and trust in God’s loving help. Thus you will be signs of Christian hope, with its certainty that love conquers evil and that peace triumphs over violence and war.
Images from today's audience: Alexey Gotovsky/CNA-EWTN