Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address during Saturday’s Jubilee Audience:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today I wish to reflect with you on an important aspect of mercy: reconciliation. God has never failed to offer His forgiveness to men: His mercy is felt from generation to generation. We often think that our sins distance the Lord from us: in reality, by sinning, we distance ourselves from Him, but He, seeing us in danger, comes even more to seek us. God is never resigned to the possibility that a person remain estranged from His love, on the condition, however, of finding in him a sign of repentance for the evil done.
We cannot reconcile ourselves with God with our own strength. Sin is truly an expression of rejection of His love, with the consequence of shutting us in on ourselves, deluding ourselves of finding greater freedom and autonomy. However, far from God we no longer have a goal, and as pilgrims in this world we become “errant.” A common way of saying it is that, when we sin, we “turn our back to God.” It is, in fact, like this. The sinner sees only himself and pretends in this way to be self-sufficient; hence sin always widens the distance between us and God — and this can become an abyss. However, Jesus comes to seek us as a Good Shepherd, who is not happy until He has found the lost sheep, as we read in the Gospel (cf. Luke 15:4-6). He rebuilds the bridge that reconnects us to the Father and enables us to find again the dignity of children. With the offering of His life He has reconciled us with the Father and has given us eternal life (cf. John 10:15).
“Be reconciled to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:20): the cry that the Apostle Paul addresses to the first Christians of Corinth, is true for all of us today with the same force and conviction. Let us be reconciled with God! This Jubilee of Mercy is a time of reconciliation for all. So many people would like to be reconciled with God, but they do not know how to go about it, and they do not feel worthy, or they do not want to admit it, not even to themselves. The Christian community can and must foster the sincere return to God of all those who feel nostalgia for Him. Above all, those that carry out the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) are called to be docile instruments of the Holy Spirit so that where sin has increased God’s grace can abound all the more (cf. Romans 5:20). No one must remain far from God because of obstacles placed my men! And this is true also – and I say it underscoring it — for confessors — it is true for them –: please, do not put obstacles to persons who want to be reconciled with God. A confessor must be a father! He is taking the place of God the Father! The confessor must receive the persons that come to him to be reconciled with God and help them in the path of this reconciliation, which we are undertaking.
It is such a beautiful ministry: it is not a room of torture or an interrogation. No, it is the Father who receives and welcomes this person and forgives. Let us be reconciled with God! –all of us! May this Holy Year be a favorable time to rediscover the need for the tenderness and closeness of the Father to return to Him with all our heart. To have the experience of reconciliation with God enables one to discover the need for other forms of reconciliation: in families, in inter-personal relations, in ecclesial communities, as well as in social and international relations.
Someone said to me, in past days, that there are more enemies in the world than friends, and I think he was right. But no, let us build bridges of reconciliation also among ourselves, beginning with our family itself. How many siblings have quarrelled and have become distant solely over the inheritance. This is not right! This year is the Year of Reconciliation, with God and among us! Reconciliation, in fact, is also a service to peace, to the recognition of the fundamental rights of people, to solidarity and to the reception of all.
Therefore, let us accept the invitation to allow ourselves to be reconciled with God, to become new creatures and to be able to radiate His mercy among our brothers, among the people.
Greeting to the Participants in the Jubilee of the Armed Forces and the Police
With joy I give my welcome to the representatives of the Armed Forces and of the Police from so many parts of the world, who have come on pilgrimage to Rome on the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The Forces of Order – military and police – have as their mission to guarantee a safe environment, so that every citizen can live in peace and serenity. Be instruments of reconciliation, builders of bridges and sowers of peace in your families and in the various realms in which you work. In fact, not only are you called to prevent, manage and put an end to conflicts, but also to contribute to the construction of an order founded on truth, on justice, on love and on freedom, in keeping with the definition of peace of Saint John XXIII in the Encyclical Pacem in Terris (nn. 18 ff).
The affirmation of peace is not an easy enterprise, especially due to war, which hardens hearts and increases violence and hatred. I exhort you not to get discouraged. Continue on your path of faith and open your hearts to our merciful God the Father who never tires of forgiving us. In face of the challenges of every day, make Christian hope shine, which is the certainty of the victory of love over hatred and of peace over war.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]