Pope: God has open arms, treats sinners with tenderness and compassion
Before the Angelus, Francis commented the "Chapter of mercy", the 15th in Luke's Gospel, which presents us with parables with which Christ responds to the whispers of the scribes and the Pharisees: the lost sheep, the coin, and the prodigal son. There is no sin in which we have fallen, the pope said, " from which, by the grace of God, we cannot rise again; there is no individual beyond redemption because God never ceases to want our good, even when we sin!” After the Marian prayer, he dedicates a prayer for Gabon and speaks about the beatification of Ladislaus Bukowinski, in Kazakhstan.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis, before the Angelus, said that in the three parables "of mercy" in chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke "Jesus wants to make us understand that God the Father is the first to have a welcoming and merciful attitude toward sinners." The stories of the lost sheep, the coin, and the prodigal son "are Christ's answer to the whispers of the scribes and Pharisees" and the ways the Master "shows us God’s open arms for all of us."
With these three stories, Francis said, "Jesus wants to make us understand that God the Father is the first to have a welcoming and merciful attitude toward sinners. God has this attitude. In the first parable God is presented as a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to go in search of the lost one. In the second he is compared to a woman who lost a coin and searches it until she finds it. In the third parable God is imagined as a father who welcomes his son who had been away; the father figure reveals God’s heart, the merciful God, manifested in Jesus."
A common element in these three parables, the pope immediately added, "is that expressed by the verbs that mean rejoicing together, partying. It is not about mourning. It is about rejoicing, celebrating. [...] In the first two parables, the emphasis is on the joy that is so overwhelming that one has to share it with ‘friends and neighbours’. In the third parable it is on the feast that comes from the heart of the merciful father and spreads to all his house. This feast of God for those who return to Him in repentance is in tune with the Jubilee Year we are experiencing, as the term ‘jubilee’ itself says. i.e. jubilation."
The message in today's Gospel, Francis concludes, "gives us great hope and we can summarise it as follows: there is no sin in which we have fallen, from which, by the grace of God, we cannot rise again; there is no individual beyond redemption, no one is beyond redemption, because God never ceases to want our good, even when we sin! May the Virgin Mary, Refuge of Sinners, bring out of our hearts the trust that was kindled in the heart of the prodigal son: ‘I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.’ On this path, we can give joy to God, and his joy can become ours."
After the Marian prayer, the pope invited the audience to recite a "special prayer for Gabon, which is going through a time of severe political crisis. I entrust to the Lord the victims of the clashes and their families. I join the bishops of that dear African country to invite the parties to reject all violence and to always aim for the common good. I encourage everyone, particularly Catholics, to be builders of peace within the law, in dialogue and fraternity.”
Finally, Francis said that "today in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, Ladislaus Bukowinski, priest and pastor, persecuted for his faith, was proclaimed Blessed. How much this man suffered, how much! In his life he always showed great love for the weakest and neediest and his testimony appears as a distillation of spiritual and corporal works of mercy."