St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 15 September 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's Gospel (Lk 15: 1-32) begins with some who criticize Jesus, seeing him in the company of tax collectors and sinners, and they say with disdain: "He welcomes sinners and eats with them" (v. 2). This phrase actually turns out to be a wonderful announcement. Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. This is what happens to us, in every Mass, in every church: Jesus is happy to welcome us to his table, where he offers himself for us. It is the phrase that we could write on the doors of our churches: "Here Jesus welcomes sinners and invites them to his table". And the Lord, responding to those who criticized him, recounts three parables, three stupendous parables, which show his predilection for those who feel distant from him. Today it would be nice for each of you to take the Gospel, the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, and read the three parables. They are wonderful.
In the first parable he says: "Who among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and goes in search of the lost one?" (V. 4) Who of you? A sensible person does not: he does two calculations and sacrifices one to keep the ninety-nine. God, on the other hand, does not resign himself, to him you really care about yourself who still do not know the beauty of his love, you who have not yet received Jesus at the center of your life, you who cannot overcome your sin, you who perhaps for the bad things that have happened in your life do not believe in love. In the second parable, you are that little coin that the Lord does not resign himself to lose and he searches relentlessly: he wants to tell you that you are precious in his eyes, that you are unique. No one can replace you in the heart of God. You have a place, it is you, and no one can replace you; and even I, no one can replace me in the heart of God. And in the third parable God is a father who awaits the return of the prodigal son: God always awaits us, does not get tired, does not lose heart. Because it is we, each of us that re-embraced son, that rediscovered coin, that sheep caressed and put on his shoulder. He waits every day for us to notice his love. And you say: "But I've combined so many, I've combined too many!" Don't be afraid: God loves you, loves you as you are and knows that only his love can change your life.
But this infinite love of God for us sinners, which is the heart of the Gospel, can be rejected. This is what the eldest son of the parable does. He does not understand love at that moment and has more in mind a master than a father. It is also a risk for us: to believe in a more rigorous than merciful god, a god who defeats evil with power rather than forgiveness. It is not so, God saves with love, not with force; posing, not imposing. But the eldest son, who does not accept the mercy of his father, closes himself, makes a worse mistake: he is presumed to be right, presumed betrayed and judges everything on the basis of his thought of justice. So he gets angry with his brother and reproaches his father: "You have killed the fat calf now that this son of yours has returned" (see verse 30). This son of yours: my brother does not call him, but your son. He feels like an only child. We are also wrong when we believe ourselves to be right, when we think that the bad ones are the others. Let us not believe ourselves good, because alone, without the help of God who is good, we do not know how to overcome evil. Today do not forget, take the Gospel and read the three parables of Luke, chapter 15. It will do you good, it will be good for you.
How do you defeat evil? Accepting God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of the brothers. It happens every time we go to confession: there we receive the love of the Father who overcomes our sin: there is no more, God forgets it. God, when he forgives, loses his memory, forgets our sins, forgets. God is so good with us! Not like us, who after saying "does nothing", at the first opportunity we remember with the interests of the injuries suffered. No, God cancels the evil, makes us new inside and thus makes us rebirth joy, not sadness, not darkness in our hearts, not suspicion, but joy.
Brothers and sisters, courage, with God no sin has the last word. Our Lady, who unties the knots of life, frees us from the pretense of believing we are righteous and makes us feel the need to go to the Lord, who is always waiting for us to embrace us, to forgive us.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
Last week the long awaited exchange of prisoners between the Russian Federation and Ukraine was carried out. I rejoice for the liberated people, who have been able to re-embrace their loved ones, and continue to pray for a rapid end to the conflict and for lasting peace in eastern Ukraine.
Yesterday in Forlì she was proclaimed Blessed Benedetta Bianchi Porro, who died in 1964 at just 28 years old. Her whole life was marked by illness, and the Lord gave her the grace to endure it, indeed, to transform it into a luminous testimony of faith and love. And today in Limburg (Germany) he is proclaimed Blessed Father Riccardo Henkes, a Pallottine priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Dachau in 1945. The example of these two brave disciples of Christ also supports our journey to holiness. A round of applause for the new blesseds!
I affectionately greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims from different countries: families, church groups, associations.
I greet the faithful of Honduras and Bolivia; young African entrepreneurs committed to working together - harambe - for the future of Africa; and the electric car pilgrimage from Poland.
I greet the soldiers gathered in memory of the Servant of God Father Gianfranco Chiti; the Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer; the faithful of Montecchio Emilia with their Venezuelan friends; and the confirmations of Crotone. I greet the UNITALSI group and I bless the great national pilgrimage to Lourdes which will take place in the coming days.
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!