Even if we were naive enough to think we could do without God and create distance, His love awaits us for when we return.
Pope Francis stressed this during his Angelus address today at noon in St. Peter’s Square, as he reflected on the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel and stressed that the father figure in the parable reveals the heart of God.
“He is the Merciful Father who, in Jesus, loves us beyond all measure, always awaits our conversion every time we wrong; He awaits our return when we turn away from him thinking, we can do without Him,” the Pope said.
“No matter what happened, He is always willing to open up His arms..As the Father of the Gospel, God also continues to consider them His children, even when they are lost, and comes to us with tenderness when we return to Him.”
The errors we commit, even if they are large, Francis underscored, do not scratch away the fidelity of his love.
“In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can always start out afresh,” Francis reminded, saying, “He welcomes us, gives us the dignity of being His children and tells us: “Go ahead! Be at peace! Get up, go ahead!”
Francis noted how the merciful father in the parable makes us understand what it truly means to “always be ready to forgive” and “hope against hope.”
“God works with us like this,” Francis observed, “He lets us be free, even to make mistakes, because in creating us, He has given us the great gift of freedom. It is for us to put it to good use. This gift of freedom that God gives us always amazes me!”
Carrying in Heart
This separation from his son was only physical, the Pope stressed, noting how the father always carried him in his heart, confidently awaiting his return, even scanning the road hoping to see him.
“But this means that this father, every day, climbed on the roof to see if his son came back!” Francis said.
Even though the son made big mistakes, the Pope said, the Father still welcomes him, running toward him, embracing him, and kissing him.
In response to the other son who has not sinned and had remained with the father, and resents the warm welcome toward his brother, the father tells him not to take this personally, but to accept his brother’s return with joy.
Attitude of Righteousness Comes From Devil
“And this makes me think of something,” Pope Francis departed from his script to say, “When one feels they are a sinner, they feel like they are nothing, as I’ve heard someone say — many–: ‘Father, I am a little piece of dirt.'”
Precisely this moment, the Pope said, is when one should return to the Father.
“Instead,” Francis continued, “when one feels righteous– ‘I always did the right thing …’ –, the Father equally comes to seek us, because this attitude of righteousness is evil: it is pride. It comes from the devil.”
Time to Return
The Pope reminded the faithful gathered in the Square how Our Father in Heaven waits for those that recognize themselves to be sinners and also goes out seeking those who feel themselves ‘righteous.’
“This is our Father!” he said.
In this stretch of Lent before Easter, Pope Francis said, we are called to intensify the inner journey of conversion, and prayed we let the lessons of the parable take on meaning in our lives.
Full Angelus Text: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-returning-to-a-loving-embrace/