Below, please find a Vatican Radio English translation of the Pope’s Audience address:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared several times to the disciples before ascending to the glory of the Father. The Gospel passage which we just heard (Luke 24,45-48) tells of one of these apparitions, in which the Lord points out the fundamental content of the message which the apostles will offer to the world. We can synthesize it with two words: “conversion” and “forgiveness of sins”. These are two qualifying aspects of the mercy of God, which takes care of us in love. Today we shall consider conversion.
This theme is present through the Bible and, in a special way, in the preaching of the prophets, who continually invite the people to “return to the Lord” asking them to forgive and change their style of life. Conversion, according to the prophets, means changing direction and turning anew to the Lord, trusting that He loves us and that His love is always faithful.
Jesus made conversion the first word of his preaching: “Convert, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1,15). It is with this proclamation that He presents Himself to the people, asking them to accept his word as the final and definitive word of the Father for humanity (cf. Mark 12,1-11). Compared to the preaching of the prophets, Jesus insists even more on the interior dimension of conversion. Indeed, the entire person is involved in it, heart and mind, in order to become a new creature.
When Jesus calls to conversion, he does not set himself up as judge of persons, but he calls from a position of nearness, because he shares in the human condition, and calls from the street, from the home, from the table… Mercy towards those who needed to change their lives took place through his lovable presence so as to involve each person in his salvation history. With this way of being, Jesus touched the depth of people’s hearts and they felt attracted by the love of God and invited to change their life. For example, the conversion of Matthew (cf. Matthew 9,9-13) and of Zacchaeus (cf. Luke 19,1-10) happened in exactly this manner, because they felt loved by Jesus and, through Him, by the Father. True conversion happens when we accept the gift of grace, and a clear sign of its authenticity is when we become aware of the needs of our brothers and are ready to draw near to them.
Dear brothers and sisters, how many times have we also felt the need to effect a change which would involve our entire person! How many times do we say to ourselves: “I need to change, I can’t continue this way. My life on this path will not give fruit; it will be a useless life and I won’t be happy.” How often these thoughts come! And Jesus, who is near us, extends his hand and says, “Come, come to me. I’ll do the work: I’ll change your heart, I’ll change your life, I will make you happy.” But do we believe this, yes or no? What do you think: do you believe this or not? Less applause and more voice! Do you believe or not? ‘Yes!’ So it is. Jesus who is with us invites us to change our life. It is He, with the Holy Spirit, who seeds in us the this restlessness to change life and be a little better.Let us follow, therefore, this invitation of the Lord and let us not put up resistance, because only if we open ourselves to mercy will we find true life and true joy. (Devin Sean Watkins)