08/04/2016, 18.36
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Pope in Assisi: No one can feel exempt from task of offering todays world witness of mercy

On a visit to the Portiuncula, for the eighth centenary of the "Pardon of Assisi", Pope Francis explains that forgiveness should be given to others because we have been forgiven. To say "you will pay!” is unchristian. In an unscheduled move, the Pope enters a confessional to offer the sacrament of reconciliation.

Assisi (AsiaNews) - "To offer today’s world the witness of mercy is a task from which none of us can feel exempted.  The world needs forgiveness; too many people are caught up in resentment and harbour hatred, because they are incapable of forgiving.  They ruin their own lives and the lives of those around them rather than finding the joy of serenity and peace”. This was Pope Francis' urgent message this afternoon, communicated during his visit to the Portiuncula, the chapel located within the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, for which St Francis obtained the "Pardon of Assisi", which is marking its eighth centenary.

And this urgent message prompted Pope Francis at the end of his homily, to call on all the bishops and friars present to go to the confessional to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. "I, too, - he added, will go to the confessional and make myself available to forgiveness".

The Pope had arrived at about 4pm in the basilica and entering the Porziuncola remained several minutes in silence. Immediately after the deacon proclaimed the Gospel of Matthew (18, 21-35). Commenting on the passage, Pope Francis said that "forgiveness is certainly the high road" to reach Heaven.

"Why should we forgive someone who has offended us?  Because we were forgiven first, and of infinitely more.  The parable says exactly this: just as God has forgiven us, so we too should forgive those who do us harm.  So too does the prayer that Jesus taught us, the Our Father, in which we say: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6:12).  The debts are our sins in the sight of God, and our debtors are those whom we, for our part, must forgive".

Describing peoples experience when they go to confess their sins, the Pope added: "GYet God never tires of offering us his forgiveness each time we ask for it.  His is a pardon that is full and complete, one that assures us that, even if we fall back into the same sins, he is merciful and never ceases to love us”.

"The problem – he explained - unfortunately, comes whenever we have to deal with a brother or sister who has even slightly offended us.  The reaction described in the parable describes it perfectly: “He seized him by the throat and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’” (Mt 18:28).  Here we encounter all the drama of our human relationships.  When we are indebted to others, we expect mercy; but when others are indebted to us, we demand justice!  This is a reaction unworthy of Christ’s disciples, nor is it the sign of a Christian style of life.  Jesus teaches us to forgive and to do so limitlessly: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v. 22).  What he offers us is the Father’s love, not our own claims to justice.  To trust in the latter alone would not be the sign that we are Christ’s disciples, who have obtained mercy at the foot of the cross solely by virtue of the love of the Son of God".

And before moving to the confessional to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he concluded: "May the Lord give us the grace to say the word that the Father does not allow finish, like the prodigal son: we begin to speak: 'Father, forgive me I sin ... 'may he stop our mouths and clothes us anew. The father always looks at the road awaiting the return of the prodigal son. And we all are [prodigal sons]".

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