“Merciful men and women have an open heart," Pope Francis said in his homily today at Casa Santa Marta. "They always excuse the other and think of their own sins.” 

The Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel of St. Luke, which recounts Jesus’ call to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

The Pope said that his attitude is difficult since many times we are accustomed to judge others. “To be merciful, two attitudes are necessary,” he said. The first is the knowledge of oneself: to know that we have done many things that are not good, that we are sinners.” This, he continued, is only possible if we truly feel ashamed of our sins.”

“It is true, none of us have killed anyone, but [there are] many little things, many daily sins, of everyday… And when one thinks: ‘But what, what a small heart: I did this against the Lord! It is to be ashamed! To be ashamed before God and this shame is grace: it is the grace of being a sinner. ‘I am a sinner and I am ashamed before You and I ask You for forgiveness.’ It is simple, but it is difficult to say: ‘I have sinned.”

The Holy Father went on to say that many times, we justify ourselves by laying the blame on others. If one, instead, is truly repentant, one can give the same mercy that is received.

The second attitude in order to be merciful, the Pope continued, is the need to open one’s heart. A small heart, he said, “is selfish and incapable of mercy.”

“Open your heart! ‘But I am a sinner.’ ‘But look at what this person did, or that person...I haven’t done so much!’”, he said. “‘Who am I to judge him?’ This phrase: ‘Who am I to judge? Who am I to gossip on that one? Who am I to…? Who am I that has done the same or worse? An open heart!”

“And the Lord says it: ‘Do not judge lest you be judged! Do not condemn and you will not be condemned! Forgive and you will be forgiven? Give and you shall be given!’ This is generosity of heart! And what will be given to you? A good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. And the image of the people who would go to collect wheat with an apron and would widen the apron to receive more, more grain. If your heart is wide, large, you can receive more.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful present to widen their hearts, explaining that an open heart does not condemn, but rather, forgives and forgets.

“This is the path of mercy that we should ask for,” he said.  But if all of us, if all the people, persons, families, neighbourhoods, had this attitude, how much peace would there be in the world, this peace in our hearts! Because mercy brings us to peace. Always remember: ‘Who am I to judge?’ To be ashamed and to widen your heart. May the Lord give us this grace.” (J.A.E.)