Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address at this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square:
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THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
After having reflected on God’s mercy in the Old Testament, today we begin to meditate on how Jesus Himself brought it to its fulfilment. Jesus, in fact, is God’s mercy made flesh – a mercy that He expressed, realized and communicated always, in every moment of His earthly life. In meeting the crowds, in proclaiming the Gospel, in curing the sick, in approaching the last, in forgiving sinners, Jesus makes visible a love open to all: no one excluded! It is open to all without limits. It is a pure, free and absolute love, a love that reaches its culmination in the sacrifice of the Cross. Yes, the Gospel is truly the “Gospel of Mercy,” because Jesus is Mercy!
All four Gospels attest that, before undertaking His ministry, Jesus wished to receive Baptism from John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34). This event imprints a decisive orientation to the whole of Christ’s mission. In fact, He did not present Himself to the world in the splendor of the Temple: He could have done so, He did not have Himself proclaimed by fanfare: He could have done so, He did not even come in the robes of a judge: He could have done so. Instead, after thirty years of a hidden life at Nazareth, Jesus went to the river Jordan, together with many of His people, and He put Himself in the queue with sinners. He was not ashamed; He was there with everyone, with sinners, to be baptized. Therefore, from the beginning of His ministry, He manifested Himself as the Messiah who takes on the human condition, moved by solidarity and compassion. As He Himself affirmed in the synagogue of Nazareth, identifying Himself with Isaiah’s prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19).
All that Jesus did after His Baptism was the realization of the initial program: to take to all the love of God that saves; Jesus did not bring hatred, He did not bring enmity: He brought us love! – a great love, a heart open to all, to all of us! – a love that saves!
He made Himself close to the last, communicating to them God’s mercy, which is forgiveness, joy and new life. Jesus, the Son sent by the Father, is really the beginning of the time of mercy for the whole of humanity! Those who were present on the banks of the Jordan did not understand immediately the importance of Jesus’ gesture. John the Baptist himself was astonished by His decision (cf. Matthew 3:14) — but not the heavenly Father! He made His voice heard from on high: ”You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11).
Thus, the Father confirmed the way the Son undertook as Messiah, while the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove. So Jesus’ heart beats, so to speak, in unison with the heart of the Father and of the Spirit, showing all men that salvation is the fruit of God’s mercy.
We can contemplate the great mystery of this love even more clearly by turning our gaze to Jesus crucified. While He is about to die for us sinners, He entreats the Father: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). It is on the Cross that Jesus presents to the Father’s mercy the sin of the world, the sin of all, my sins, your sins. And there, on the Cross, He presents them to the Father. And with the sins of the world all our sins are cancelled. Nothing and no one remains excluded from this sacrificial prayer of Jesus. This means that we must not be afraid to acknowledge and confess ourselves sinners. How many times we say: “But he is a sinner, he has done this, and that …”, and we judge others. And you? Each one of us should ask himself: Yes, he is a sinner, and I?” We are all sinners, but we are all forgiven: we all have the possibility of receiving this forgiveness, which is God’s mercy. Therefore, we must not be afraid to acknowledge ourselves sinners, to confess ourselves sinners, because every sin was born by the Son on the Cross. And when we confess it repentant, entrusting ourselves to Him, we are certain of being forgiven. The Sacrament of Reconciliation renders actual for each one the strength of the forgiveness that flows from the Cross and renews in our life the grace of mercy that Jesus acquired for us! We must not be afraid of our miseries: each one of us has his own. The power of the love of the Crucified knows no obstacles and is never exhausted, and this mercy cancels our miseries.
Beloved, in this Jubilee Year, let us ask God for the grace to experience the power of the Gospel: the Gospel of mercy that transforms, which makes us enter in God’s heart, which enables us to forgive and to look at the world with greater kindness. If we receive the Gospel of the Risen Crucified One, the whole of our life is moulded by the strength of His love, which renews.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Greetings for Italian-speakers present
I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I am happy to receive the faithful of the dioceses of Castellaneta and of Fidenza, accompanied by their Pastors, Monsignor Maniago and Monsignor Mazza; and the participants in the march of nourishing peace, with the Bishop of Gubbio, Monsignor Ceccobelli. I greet the Community of the Saint John Damascene Pontifical College, observing the 75 years of its foundation; the students and relatives of the Schools of the Congregation of Adorers of the Blood of Christ; the doctors of the European Society of Paediatric Orthopaedics as well as the faithful of Recco, Alatri, Vietri of Potenza and the students of Messina. In this Extraordinary Jubilee, I invite you to rediscover the need for the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as an opportunity to nourish our faith.
A particular thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Look at the model of the Virgin Mary to live this Paschal Time in listening to the Word of God and with the practice of charity, living with joy your membership in the Church, the family of the missionary disciples of the Risen Christ.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
Today is the Third International Day of Sport for Development and Peace proclaimed by the United Nations. Sport is a universal language, which brings peoples close and can contribute to have persons meet and overcome conflicts. Therefore, I encourage you to live the sports dimension as a training ground of virtue in the integral growth of individuals and communities.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]