Only with open hearts and admitting we are sinners, we can receive God’s mercy.
Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.
Drawing inspiration from today’s reading from the Book of Jeremiah, the Pontiff stressed that “God is always faithful, for he cannot deny himself,” but people don’t listen to Him.
God does many things “to attract the hearts of His people,” the Pope stressed, yet they remain unfaithful, he added.
“This unfaithfulness of God’s people,” the Pope warned, is “also ours.” It is our own infidelity, he said, which “hardens the heart, closes the heart!”
“It does not allow [us to hear] the voice of the Lord who, as a loving father, always asks us to open ourselves to His mercy and His love.
‘Hear now the voice of God. Do not harden your hearts!’ the Pope said.
Francis noted how the Lord always speaks with us in this way, “with the tenderness of a father who says: ‘Return to me with all your heart, for I am compassionate and merciful.’”
“But when the heart is hardened, you don’t understand this. God’s mercy can only be understood when you are able to open your heart to let it enter. ”
The Pope pointed to the learned men who studied Scriptures and confronted Jesus to make his point.
They were “teachers of the law who knew theology, but they were very, very closed,” whereas the crowd was amazed and had faith in Jesus.
“Their hearts were open: imperfect, sinful, but open hearts.”
“But these theologians,” adds the Pope, “had a closed attitude! They always sought an explanation so as not to understand the message of Jesus.”
“They asked Him for a sign from heaven. Always closed! It was Jesus who had to justify his actions.”
“This is the story, the story of this failed fidelity. The story of closed hearts, of hearts that do not let in the mercy of God, which have forgotten the word forgiveness: ‘Forgive me Lord!’ – simply because they do not [see themselves as] sinners [but see themselves as] judges of others.
The Pope called on faithful to pray for the grace of fidelity, noting the first step is to admit you are a sinner.
“If you do not feel sinful, you have begun badly,” he said.
If you acknowledge that you are a sinner, the Pope explained, “the heart opens and God’s mercy is allowed to enter and you begin to be faithful.”
“We ask for grace so that our hearts do not harden – that they are open to God’s mercy – and for the grace of faithfulness. And when we find ourselves unfaithful, for the grace to ask for forgiveness.”