“For God, it’s never too late. Never, never!”
Pope Francis emphasized in the Mass celebrated yesterday, Sunday, September 24, 2017, at the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens for the Corps of Gendarmes, on the feast of its patron saint, St. Michael Arcangelo, which falls Friday, September 29.
“This is His logic of conversion,” said the Holy Father in his off-the-cuff homily.
While noting it is true that one must seek the Lord and do everything to find Him, but–Francis said–“the important thing is that He is looking for you. More important than seeking the Lord, is to realize that He is looking for you and me.”
“Our God always looks at us,” continued Francis. “It is He who makes the first step.”
Therefore, he noted, “more important than seeking the Lord, is to realize that He is looking for me.”
Pope Francis concluded, urging the gendarmes to ask “for the grace to be certain that He always is at the door, waiting for me to open the door just a little, to enter. ”
Here is a ZENIT translation of the text of the Pope’s off-the-cuff homily during the Mass.
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The Holy Father’s Homily
In the First Reading the prophet Isaiah exhorts us to seek the Lord, to convert ourselves: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts” (55:6-7). It’s conversion. He tells us that that’s the way: to seek the Lord, to change our life, to convert . . . And this is true. However, Jesus changes the logic and goes beyond, with a logic that no one could understand: it’s the logic of God’s love. It’s true, you must seek the Lord and do all you can to find Him, but what is important is that He is seeking you. He is seeking you. More important than seeking the Lord is to realize that He is seeking me.
This passage of the Gospel, this parable, makes us understand this: God comes out to find us. This passage mentions going out five times: God’s going out, the householder, who goes to hire laborers for the day for his vineyard. And the day <represents> the life of a person, and God goes out in the morning, in mid-morning, at noon, in the afternoon up to the evening, at five. He doesn’t tire of going out. Our God doesn’t tire of going out to seek us, to make us see that He loves us. “But Father, I’m a sinner . . .” And how many times we are in the Square like these [of the parable] who are there the whole day, and to be in the Square is to be in the world, to be in sins, to be . . . “Come!” – “But it’s late . . .” – “Come!” For God, it is never to late! Never, never! This is His logic of conversion. He comes out of Himself to seek us, and He came out of Himself so much that He sent His Son to seek us. Our God always has His eyes on us. We think of the Father of the Prodigal Son: the Gospel says that he saw him coming from afar (Cf. Luke 15:20). But why did he see him? Because every day, perhaps several times a day, he went out on the terrace to see if his son was coming, if his son was returning. This is our God’s heart: He waits for us always. And when someone says: “I’ve found God,” he’s mistaken. In the end, He has found you and has taken you with Him. He is the one who takes the first step. He doesn’t tire of going out, of going out . . . He respects every man’s freedom, but He’s there, waiting for us to open the door a little bit.
And this is the great thing about the Lord: He is humble. Our God is humble. He humbles Himself waiting for us. He’s always there, waiting.
We are all sinners and we are all in need of the encounter with the Lord, of an encounter that will give us strength to go on, simply to be better. However, let’s be careful, because He passes, He comes and it would be a sad thing if He should pass and we don’t realize that He is passing. And let’s ask for the grace today: “Lord, that I may be certain that You are waiting. Yes, waiting for me, with my sins, with my defects, with my problems.” We all have them, all of us. But He is there: He is always there. I think the worst sin is not to understand that He is always there waiting for me, not to trust in this love: to mistrust God’s love.
On this joyful day for you, may the Lord grant you this grace, also to me, to all: the grace to be certain that He is always at the door, waiting for me to open a bit to enter, and to not be afraid. When the Prodigal Son <saw> his father, his father came down from the terrace and went to meet his son.
That elderly man went in a hurry, and the Gospel says that when his son began to say: “Father, I have sinned . . .” he didn’t let him speak; he embraced him, kissed him (Cf. Luke 15:20-21). This is what awaits us if we open the door a bit: the Father’s embrace.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
“For God, it’s never too late. Never, never!”