In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the mercy of God, exemplified in the parables of Sunday’s Gospel. Thousands filled St. Peter’s despite heavy rainfall in Rome in the morning.
The three parables of mercy, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son, he said, “speak of the joy of God.”
“The joy of God is the joy of forgiveness. It is the joy of the shepherd who finds his lost sheep; the joy of the woman who finds her lost coin; the joy of the father who welcomes home his lost son,” the Pope said.
“This is all the Gospel, here; this is Christianity! But this is not sentimentalism or bland ‘do-goodism’; on the contrary, mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the ‘cancer’ of sin, from moral and spiritual malaise. Only love can fill the gaps, the negative abysses that evil opens up in our hearts and in history. Only love can do this, and this is the joy of God.
The Holy Father said that each one of us is an image of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son and that we are never forgotten or abandoned by God despite the circumstances. God always remains faithful to us while respecting our freedom. However, the Pope warned, there is a danger that we presume we are right because of our free will, thus leading us to judge others.
“We also judge God, as we think He should punish sinners and condemn them to death, instead of forgiving them,” the Pope said.
“This way we risk remaining outside our Father’s house, like the elder brother in the parable, who instead of rejoicing in his brother’s return, is angry with his father for welcoming him and celebrating. If there is no mercy in our hearts, if we do not experience the joy of forgiveness, we are not in communion with God, even if we observe all the commandments, because it is love that saves, not the simple observance of rules. It is in love for God and for our neighbour that the commandments are fulfilled.”
Prior to reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father told those present that if we continue live according to the law of ‘an eye for an eye’, the world “will never escape from the spiral of evil.
“In reality, only God’s justice can save us!,” the Pope exclaimed. “It is God’s justice that is revealed to us on the Cross: the Cross is God’s judgement on us and on the world. But how does God judge us? By giving His life for us! Here is the supreme act of justice that defeats the Prince of this world once and for all; and this supreme act of justice is precisely also the supreme act of mercy. Jesus calls all of us to follow this path: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’”
Concluding his address, the Holy Father called for a moment of silence, asking the faithful to think on someone who they are angry with. “Let us think about that person and, in silence, for a moment, let us pray for that person and become merciful towards them,” the Pope said.