How are our hearts? Are we inclusive? Do we show mercy?
Pope Francis urged faithful to ask themselves these questions during his last “Jubilee Audience” of this Holy Year of Mercy. The Jubilee Audiences were open to the public and were generally scheduled one Saturday morning a month in St. Peter’s Square during the Holy Year.
This week, the Holy Father reflected on an important aspect of mercy: inclusion.
“In His plan of love God, in fact, does not want to exclude anyone, but wants to include all,” Francis began, noting through Baptism, “He makes us His children in Christ.”
All to Be Included
“We Christians are invited to use the same criterion: mercy is that way of acting, that style with which we seek to include others in our life, avoiding withdrawing into ourselves and our egoistic securities.”
Recalling Jesus’ invitation in Matthew’s Gospel “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest (11:28),” Francis underscored, “No one is excluded from that appeal.”
But for this to be a reality, the Pontiff stressed, we must open our hearts.
With Open Arms
Inclusion, he explained, is manifested in opening one’s arms wide to receive without excluding, without classifying others on the basis of their social condition, language, race, culture or religion.
“Before us,” he underscored, “there is only a person to be loved as God loves him.”
“How many tired and oppressed persons we meet also today! — on the street, in public offices, etc.” On each of these faces, Francis stressed, Jesus’ gaze rests, and also He does so through our very eyes.
“And how is our heart?” the Pope asked. “Is it merciful? And is our way of acting inclusive?”
Our Great Work
The Gospel, he reminded, calls us to recognize in humanity’s history the plan of “a great work of inclusion, which, respecting fully every person’s, community’s and peoples’ freedom.”
“How true are Jesus’ words who invites all those who are tired, exhausted to go to Him to find rest! His wide-open arms on the cross demonstrate that no one is excluded from His love and from His mercy.”
Forgiveness, he said, is the most immediate expression with which we feel received and inserted in Him.
“We are all in need of being forgiven by God. And we are all in need of encountering brothers and sisters who help us to go to Jesus, to open ourselves to the gift He gave us on the Cross.”
Let Us Not Be…
“Let us not be obstacles to one another! Let us not exclude anyone! Rather, with humility and simplicity let us make ourselves instruments of the Father’s inclusive mercy.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying, “Let us allow ourselves to be involved in this movement of inclusion of others, to be witnesses of the mercy with which God has received and receives each one of us.”
In his remarks to Italian speaking pilgrims, Francis also invited all present to live this last Jubilee Audience “with faith to experience in their lives the forgiveness, the mercy and the love of God.”
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