Pope Francis greets the faithful at his weekly general audience


At General Audience, Pope Tells Faithful What Makes Heaven Celebrate

Francis Also Reminds ‘Salvation Is Free,’ Warns Against Being Led to Believe Otherwise

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When we sin, but we recognize it and ask for forgiveness, Jesus celebrates. Pope Francis underscored this during his weekly General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, just one day before his 79th birthday.

Francis began his address recalling that the Jubilee of Mercy was inaugurated this past week by the opening of the Holy Door, and reminded those gathered that the Jubilee is not only in Rome, but in dioceses worldwide, “so it can become an experience shared by every person.”

The Holy Father prayed that this ecclesial communion becomes more and more intense, so that the Church is the living sign of the love and mercy of the Father in the world. “But mercy and forgiveness should not remain beautiful words,” Francis stressed, “but should be realized in everyday life. Loving and forgiving are visible and concrete signs that faith has transformed our hearts and allows us to express in ourselves the very life of God.”

“To love and forgive as God loves and forgives,” the Pontiff stressed, “is a program of life that cannot know interruptions or exceptions, but encourages us to go further and further without ceasing, with the certainty of being sustained by the paternal presence of God.”

A Warning

The Pontiff warned against those who are ‘clever’ and say you have to pay for or ‘buy’ salvation. “Salvation one doesn’t pay for. The salvation one doesn’t buy. The door is Jesus and Jesus is free! He himself speaks of those that makes others enter in a way they shouldn’t, and simply says they are thieves and bandits. Still, be careful: salvation is free. Crossing though the Holy Door is a sign of true conversion of our heart.”

The Pope stressed that the door is always wide open to not exclude anyone, “not even this one or that one that bothers me.”

Celebration in Heaven

An important sign of the Jubilee is Confession, Francis pointed out, noting, “God understands us even in our limitations and contradictions.”

With God’s love, the Pope explained, He tells us how when we confess, He comes even closer to us and encourages us to look ahead. “He says more: that when we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, there is a celebration in Heaven. Jesus celebrates: this is His mercy: Let us not be discouraged. Go forward, go ahead with this!”

When we recognize and confess our sins, there is a celebration in Heaven!” Francis said.

The Pope lamented how often he has heard: ‘Father, I cannot forgive,’ and went on to question how we can ask God to forgive us, ‘if we are not capable of forgiveness?’ “Forgiving is a great thing. Of course, forgiving is not easy… But if we open ourselves to receive God’s mercy for us, we too, become capable of forgiveness … Therefore, courage!”

The Holy Father reminded those gathered that God “asks us, through genuine conversion, to open the doors of our hearts to a more sincere love of God and neighbor,” and prayed that faithful receive the grace which can make us “ever more effective signs of His reconciling love at work in our world.”

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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