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Angelus Address: On God’s Infinite Love for Sinners

‘God Always Waits for Us, He Doesn’t Tire’

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Before the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel (Luke 15:1-32) begins with some who criticize Jesus, seeing Him in the company of tax collectors and sinners, and that say with disdain: “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (v. 2). This phrase reveals itself in reality as a wonderful proclamation. Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. It’s what happens to us in every Mass, in every church: Jesus is happy to receive us at His table, where He offers Himself for us. It’s the phrase we could write on the doors of our churches: “Jesus welcomes sinners here and invites them to His table.” And, the Lord, answering those that were criticizing Him, tells them three wonderful parables, which show His predilection for those that feel far from Him. It would be good today if each one of you took up the Gospel, Luke’s Gospel, chapter 15, and read the three parables. They are wonderful.

In the first, He says: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost?” (v. 4). Which of you? Not a person of good sense: who does two calculations and sacrifices one to maintain the ninety-nine. God, instead, doesn’t resign Himself, in fact He has you at heart, who still don’t know the beauty of His love; you who have not yet welcomed Jesus at the center of your life; you who don’t succeed in overcoming your sin; you who perhaps because of the awful things that have happened in your life don’t believe in love. In the second parable, you are that small coin that the Lord is not resigned to lose and looks for without respite: He wants to tell you that you are precious in His eyes, that you are unique. No one can substitute you in God’s heart. You have a place, it’s yours, and no one can substitute you, and I too — no one can substitute me in God’s heart. And, in the third parable God is the father who waits for the return of the prodigal son: God always waits for us; He doesn’t tire; He doesn’t lose heart, so that we are, each one of us, that son embraced again, that coin found again, that sheep caressed and laid on His shoulders. Every day He waits for us to become aware of His love. And you say: “But I have been so mischievous, I have been too bad!” Don’t be afraid: God loves you; He loves you as you are and He knows that only His love can change your life.

However, this infinite love of God for us sinners, which is the heart of the Gospel, can be refused. It’s what the elder son does of the parable. He doesn’t understand love at that moment and has in mind more of a boss than a father. It’s a risk for us also: to believe in a more rigorous than merciful god, a god that defeats evil with power rather than forgiveness. It’s not so, God saves with love, not with force, proposing Himself, not imposing Himself. However, the elder son, who doesn’t accept the father’s mercy, closes himself, makes a worse mistake: he presumes himself just, he presumes himself betrayed and judges everything on the basis of his thought of justice. So he gets angry with his brother and rebukes his father: “You have killed the fatted calf when this son of yours came” (Cf. v. 30. This son of yours: he doesn’t call him my brother but your son. He feels himself the only son. We are also mistaken when we believe ourselves to be just when we think that the others are the evil ones. Let us not believe ourselves good, because on our own, without the help of God who is good, we are unable to overcome evil. Today, don’t forget to take the Bible and to read the three parables of Luke, chapter 15. It will do you good; it will be healthy for you.

How is evil defeated? It is defeated by receiving God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of brothers. This happens every time we go to Confession: we receive the love of God there, which overcomes our sin: it isn’t any longer; God forgets it. When God forgives, He loses His memory, He forgets our sins, He forgets. God is so good with us! Not like us who, after having said: “it doesn’t matter,” at the first occasion we remember with interest the wrongs suffered. No, God cancels evil; He makes us new inside and thus makes joy be reborn in us, not sadness, not darkness in the heart, not suspicion but joy.

Brothers and sisters, courage, with God no sin has the last word. May Our Lady, who unties the knots of life free us from the pretension of believing we are just and make us feel the need to go to the Lord, who waits for us always to embrace us, to forgive us.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

After the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Realized last week was the long-awaited exchange of prisoners between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. I rejoice for the persons liberated, who were able to embrace again their dear ones, and I continue to pray for a rapid end to the conflict and for lasting peace in Eastern Ukraine.

Proclaimed blessed at Forli yesterday was Benedetta Bianchi Porro, who died in 1964 when she was only 28. Her whole life was marked by illness, and the Lord gave her the grace to endure it, rather, to transform it into a luminous testimony of faith and love. And, proclaimed Blessed today at Limburg, Germany, is Father Riccardo Henkes, Pallotine priest killed out of hatred for the faith at Dachau in 1945. May the example of these two courageous disciples of Christ sustain our path to sanctity also — an applause for the new Blesseds!

I greet you all with affection, Romans, and pilgrims from different countries: families, parish groups and Associations.

I greet the faithful from Honduras and Bolivia; the young African businessmen committed to working together — harambe — for the future of Africa; and the pilgrimage with electric cars from Poland.

I greet the military men gathered in memory of the Servant of God, Father Gianfranco Chiti; the Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer; the faithful of Montecchio Emilia and their Venezuelan friends, and the Confirmation candidates of Crotone. I greet the UNITALSI group and I bless the large national pilgrimage to Lourdes, which will be held in the coming days.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

About Virginia Forrester

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