Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 17 March 2013
Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
our first meeting last Wednesday, today I can once again address my greeting
to you all! And I am glad to do so on a Sunday, on the Lord's Day! This is
beautiful and important for us Christians: to meet on Sundays, to greet each
other, to speak to each other as we are doing now, in the square. A square which,
thanks to the media, has global dimensions.
On this Fifth Sunday of
the Gospel presents to us the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. Jn 8:1-11),
whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. Jesus' attitude is striking: we
do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words
of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversion. “Neither do I condemn
you; go, and do not sin again” (v. 11). Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God's face is
the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about
God's patience, the patience he has with each one of us? That is his mercy. He
always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he
does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite
heart. “Great is God's mercy”, says the Psalm.
In the past few days I have been reading a book by a Cardinal —
Cardinal Kasper, a clever theologian, a good theologian — on mercy. And that
book did me a lot of good, but do not think I am promoting my cardinals’ books!
Not at all! Yet it has done me so much good, so much good... Cardinal Kasper
said that feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best
thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less
cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this
merciful Father who is so patient.... Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who
says that even if our sins were scarlet, God's love would make them white as
snow. This mercy is beautiful! I remember, when I had only just become a bishop
in the year 1992, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima had just arrived in Buenos
Aires and a big Mass was celebrated for the sick. I went to hear confessions at
that Mass. And almost at the end of the Mass I stood up, because I had to go and
administer a First Confirmation. And an elderly woman approached me, humble,
very humble, and over eighty years old. I looked at her, and I said,
“Grandmother” — because in our country that is how we address the elderly — do
you want to make your confession?”. “Yes”, she said to me. “But if you have not
sinned…”. And she said to me: “We all have sins...”. “But perhaps the Lord does
not forgive them”. “The Lord forgives all things”, she said to me with
conviction. “But how do you know, Madam?”. “If the Lord did not forgive
everything, the world would not exist”. I felt an urge to ask her: “Tell me,
Madam, did you study at the Gregorian [University]?”, because that is the wisdom
which the Holy Spirit gives: inner wisdom focused on God's mercy. Let us not
forget this word: God never ever tires of forgiving us! “Well, Father what is
the problem?”. Well, the problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to
ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but
at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness.
Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father
who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn
to be merciful to everyone. Let us invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held
in her arms the Mercy of God made man.
Let us now all pray the Angelus together:
After the Angelus:
I address a cordial greeting to all the pilgrims. Thank you for
your welcome and for your prayers. Pray for me, I ask it of you. I renew my
embrace of the faithful of Rome and I extend it to all of you, who come from
various parts of Italy and of the world, as well as to all those who have joined
us through the media.
I have chosen the name of the Patron of Italy, St Francis of
Assisi, and this strengthens my spiritual ties with this country where, as you
know, my family comes from. However Jesus has called us to belong to a new
family: his Church, to this family of God, walking together on the path of the
Gospel. May the Lord bless you and may Our Lady keep you. Do not forget this:
the Lord never tires of forgiving! It is we who tire of asking forgiveness.
Have a good Sunday and a good lunch!