On the Parables of Mercy

“Although Being Sinners, We Are Loved by God”

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday’s Gospel — Chapter 15 of St. Luke — Jesus tells the three “parables of mercy.” When he “speaks of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: They constitute an explanation of his very being and activity” (“Deus Caritas Est,” No. 12). In fact, the shepherd who finds the lost sheep is the Lord himself who takes sinful humanity upon himself, with the cross, to redeem it. The prodigal son, then, in the third parable, is a young man who, having obtained his inheritance from his father, “travels to a distant country and squanders it living a dissolute life” (Luke 15:13).

Reduced to poverty, he is forced to work as a slave, even feeding himself with the food for the animals. “Then,” the Gospel says, “he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). “The speech he prepares for his homecoming reveals the full extent of the inner pilgrimage he is now making … he returns ‘home,’ to himself and to the father” (Benedict XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth,” San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008. Translation slightly modified). “I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'” St. Augustine writes: “It is the Word himself who calls to you to return; the place of imperturbable quiet is where love does not know abandonment” (“Confessions,” IV, 11). “When he was still a long way off his father saw him and had compassion, and he ran to meet him, he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20), and filled with joy he had a feast prepared.

Dear friends, how can we not open our heart to the certainty that, although being sinners, we are loved by God? He never tires to come to meet us, he is the first to take to the road that separates us from him. The book of Exodus shows us how Moses, with confident and audacious supplication, succeeded in moving God, so to say, from the throne of judgment to the throne of mercy (cf. 32:7-11, 13-14). Repentance is the measure of faith and thanks to it one returns to the Truth. St. Paul writes: “I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance, far from the faith” (1 Timothy 1:13). Returning to the parable of the son who returns “home,” we note that when the older brother appears indignant over the festive welcome given his brother, it is always the father who goes to meet him and plead with him: “Son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Only faith can transform egotism into joy and restore right relations with our neighbor and with God. “We must celebrate and rejoice,” the father says, “for this brother of yours … was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:32).

Dear brothers, on Thursday I will travel to the United Kingdom, where I will proclaim Cardinal John Henry Newman blessed. I ask everyone to accompany me with prayer on this apostolic voyage. To the Virgin Mary, whose most holy name is celebrated today by the Church, I entrust our path of conversion to God.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in several languages. In Italian. he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Granada, Spain the Capuchin brother Leopoldo de Alpandeire, whose original name was Francisco Sánchez Márquez, is being proclaimed blessed. I rejoice with the Franciscan family who is seeing this brother of theirs added to the numerous ranks of their saints and blessed.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially the Bishops taking part in the ecumenical meeting sponsored by the Focolare Movement. I also greet the young people of the Don Bosco Oratory from Victoria, Gozo, Malta, and the Friends of the John Paul II Foundation from Saudi Arabia. I thank the members of the parish choir from Slovenia for their praise of God in song. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of the rejoicing in heaven which accompanies the return of sinners to the house of the Father. May his words encourage us to trust always in God’s merciful love and forgiveness. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2010 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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