An estimated 300,000 flocked to St. Peter’s Square to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square in his first Sunday Angelus address. Traffic was a standstill as the crowds filling the square, holding signs, banners and singing.
The throngs erupted in applause and cries of joy as Pope Francis appeared from the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace. After greeting those present, the Holy Father spoke on the Sunday Gospel from St. John, which presented the story of the adulterous woman who Christ saved from being stoned to death.
“Jesus attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion,” the Pope said.
“Well, brothers and sisters, the face of God is that of a merciful father, who always has patience. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience that he has for each of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not weary of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. Great is the mercy of the Lord, the Psalm says.”
Referring to a book on mercy written by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity, Pope Francis that upon hearing the word mercy, it is capable of changing the world.
“A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to rightly understand this mercy of God, this merciful Father, who has a lot of patience,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father recalled a moment shortly after he was ordained a bishop in 1992 during a mass for the sick.
“An old lady came to me, a humble lady, very humble, over 80 years old,” he began recounting. “I looked at her and I said to her: Grandma, because in our country this is what we call old people: Grandma do you want to go to confession? Yes, she said to me. But if you haven’t sinned…, [I said]. And she said to me: We have all sinned… . But maybe the Lord does not forgive them… [I replied].”“The Lord forgives everything, she told me, certain of what she was saying. But how do you know that, madam? If the Lord did not forgive everything, [she said], the world wouldn’t exist. I felt like asking her, Tell me, madam, did you study at the Gregorian? because thats the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: interior wisdom about the mercy of God.”
Pope Francis went on to emphasize that it is not God who tires of forgiving man, but who tires of asking for forgiveness. “Let us never tire, let us never tire!” he exclaimed. “He is the loving Father, who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And we too learn to be merciful with everyone. We invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man.”
Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father thanked all the pilgrims present for their prayers and welcome. Pope Francis also echoed the words directed to journalists the day before regarding the selection of his name.
“I chose the name of the Patron of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and that reinforces my spiritual bond with this land, where as you know my family has its origins. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church, this family of God, walking together along the way of the Gospel,” he said.