“As soon as we give God the chance, He remembers us. He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory – unlike our own – does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced.”
Pope Francis said this during his homily for the Closure of Jubilee Year of Mercy, Dec. 8, 2015 – Nov. 20, 2016, on the occasion of the Feast of Christ the King, as he reminded faithful how God’s mercy awaits us always, even if Holy Doors have closed.
“God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And He believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.”
Recalling that today marks the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the Pontiff encouraged us to proclaim His victory today, and joyfully share the splendor of having Jesus as our King: his rule of love transforms sin into grace, death into resurrection, fear into trust.
Must Not Only Be King of Universe, But of Lives
“It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make Him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept his way of being King”
The Jesuit Pontiff then went on to present three figures in today’s Gospel that appear, along with Jesus: the people who are looking on, those near the Cross, and the criminal crucified next to Jesus.
Which of These Three….
Speaking first on the people who“stood by, watching,” without drawing closer (Lk 23:35), Francis reflected: “Given the circumstances of our lives and our unfulfilled expectations, we too can be tempted to keep our distance from Jesus’ kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of his humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us.”
Even if at times we feel tempted to keep our distance, Francis pointed out:”A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow his way of tangible love. They are called to ask themselves, each one each day: “What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?”
Turning to the second group, including various individuals, the leaders of the people, the soldiers and a criminal, who mock Jesus and tell Him ‘Save yourself.’ Francis noted that in saying ‘Save Yourself, they are committing a terrible temptation, in trying to tempt Jesus, just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (cf. Lk 4:1-13).
“This temptation,” the Pope said, “is a direct attack on love: “save yourself,” not others, but yourself. He continues rather to love; he forgives, he lives this moment of trial according to the Father’s will, certain that love will bear fruit.”
How Many Times….
In order to receive the kingship of Jesus, the Holy Father explained, we are called to struggle against this temptation, fix our gaze ever closer to Him and become always more faithful.
“How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world,” Francis said. “How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross. The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works.”
This Year of Mercy, the Holy Father reminded, invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential.
Abandon Those Habits…
“Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.”
Turning to the thief, the Gospel’s third figure, who begged Jesus to be remembered in His Kingdom, Francis applauded his faith. “He was not closed in on himself, but rather – with his errors, his sins and his troubles – he turned to Jesus, and experienced God’s mercy: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v.43), and we are called to do the same.
With this in mind, Francis called on those present to pray for the graces of “never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, to know how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope,” and to realize that, “As God believes in us, infinitely beyond any merits we have, so too we are called to instill hope and provide opportunities to others.”
Heart of Christ Remains Open, Even If Holy Door Is Closed
“Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.”
Pope Francis concluded reminded us to entrust ourselves daily to Mary, Mother of Mercy, for “in every situation we are in, every prayer we make, when lifted up to His merciful eyes, [She] will find an answer.”
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