Thursday, March 21, 2013

1st Angelus as Pope (5th Sunday of Lent)

Brothers and sisters, good day!....

On this fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents the episode of the woman caught in adultery, who Jesus saves from being condemned to death. The emphasis of Jesus is striking: we don't hear words of disrespect, we don't hear words of condemnation but only words of love, of mercy, inviting us to conversion. "Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more!" Eh! Brothers and sisters, the face of God is that of a merciful father, an ever-patient one. Have you thought of God's patience, the patience that he has for each of us? That's his mercy. He's always patient, patient with us; he understands us, approaches us, he never tires of forgiving us if we know to turn to him with a contrite heart. "Great is the mercy of God," says the Psalmist.
In these days, I've been able to read a book by a Cardinal – Cardinal Kasper, an on-the-ball theologian, a good theologian – on mercy. And I thought it was really good, this book, but don't think that I'm plugging the books of my cardinals! It isn't so! But it was really good, really good.... Cardinal Kasper said that to feel mercy, this word changes everything. It's better that we can feel it: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand this mercy of God, this merciful Father who has so much patience... Let us remember the prophet Isaiah, who said that even if our sins might be as scarlet, the love of God will make them white as snow. It's beautiful, this mercy! I remember, when I was [an auxiliary] bishop, in 1992 [the pilgrim statue of] Our Lady of Fatima came to Buenos Aires and a great Mass took place for the sick. I went to hear confessions at this Mass, and at the end of it I got up to administer the anointing of the sick. And an old woman came to me – humble, very humble, over-80 woman. I looked at her and told her: "Grandma – because for us that's what we call the elderly – nonna: do you want to go to confession?" "Yes," she told me." [I said] "But if you haven't sinned...." And she said to me: "We've all sinned." "But maybe the Lord doesn't forgive them" [I said]. "The Lord forgives everyone," she said: surely. "But how do you know that, ma'am?" "If the Lord didn't forgive everything, the world wouldn't exist." I wanted to ask her: "Tell me, ma'am, did you study at the Gregorian?," because that's the wisdom only the Holy Spirit gives: the inner wisdom on the mercy of God. Let's not forger this word: God never, ever gets tired of forgiving us! "Eh, padre, what's the problem?" Eh, the problem is that we get tired, we don't want to, we get tired of asking forgiveness. He never gets tired of forgiving, but we at times, we get tired of asking forgiveness. May we never tire, let us never tire of it! He's the loving Father who always forgives, who has a heart of mercy for all of us. And even we can learn to be merciful with others. Let us ask the intercession of Our Lady, who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man....
I offer a heartfelt greeting to all you pilgrims. Thanks for your welcome and your prayers. Pray for me, I beg you. I renew my embrace to the faithful of Rome, and I extend it to all of you, who come from every part of Italy and the world, as well as the many who're with us by the means of communication. I chose the name of the Patron of Italy, St Francis of Assisi, and this reinforces my spiritual link with this land where – as you know – my family has its origins. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his church, in this family of God, walking together on the way of the Gospel. May the Lord bless you and the Madonna keep you in her care. And don't forget this: the Lord never gets tired of forgiveness! We're the ones who get tired of asking for it.
Happy Sunday – have a great lunch!

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