God’s mercy can forgive any sin — any sine — but the sinner has the power to refuse that mercy.
That was at the core of the Holy Father’s message in his address before praying the noonday Angelus on September 15, 2019, with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He pointed out that the endless mercy of God is the heart of the gospel.
“He wants to tell you that you are precious in His eyes, that you are unique,” the Holy Father said. “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.”
Reflecting on the day’s gospel, which includes the parable of the prodigal son, the Pope reminded the group that no sin was too awful for God to forgive. The Lord is like the father in the parable who welcomes back his errant son no matter what the young man had done. A key is that the prodigal son asked to be forgiven, which any sinner must do with God.
“Don’t be afraid: God loves you; He loves you as you are and He knows that only His love can change your life,” Francis explained. “However, this infinite love of God for us sinners, which is the heart of the Gospel, can be refused.
“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!”