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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jubilee Audience on Reconciliation

This morning, at 10:00am, the fifth Jubilee Audience was held in Saint Peter's Square.  These special gatherings were introduced by Pope Francis and are held on Saturdays in order that he might meet with pilgrims and the faithful who have come to Rome during the Jubilee of Mercy.

During his speech, the Pope added his meditation on an essential aspect of mercy: reconciliation (cf 2 Cor 5:20-21) and he also offered greetings to members of the Armed Forces and the Police who are participating in the Jubilee.

After having summarized his catechesis in various languages, His Holiness offered particular greetings to each group of the faithful in attendance.

The Jubilee Audience concluded with the chanting of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

Catechesis of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the General Audience

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, I want to reflect with you on an important aspect of mercy: reconciliation.  God has never stopped offering his forgiveness to mankind: his mercy is felt from one generation to another.  Often, we believe that our sins distance God from us, but in reality, when we sin, we distance ourselves from Him, but He is conscious of our danger and comes looking for us.  God never gives up on the possibility that a person might remain estranged from his love, as long as he finds some sign within us of repentance from the evil that we have committed.

Our efforts alone are not enough for us to be reconciled with God.  Sin is truly an expression of our rejection of his love, with the consequence of being closed in upon ourselves, surrounded with the illusion of finding greater freedom and autonomy.  But distanced from God we no longer have a goal, pilgrims in this world, we become wanderers.  A common saying is that when we sin, we turn away from God.  This is true: the sinner sees only himself and pretends in this way to be self-sufficient; thus, sin always spreads more distance between us and God, and this can become a chasm.  However, Jesus is searching for us, like a good shepherd who is never content until he has found the lost sheep, as we read in the gospel (cf Lk 15:4-6).  He rebuilds the bridge that leads us back to the Father and allows us to rediscover the dignity of his children.  With the offering of his life, he has reconciled us with the Father and has given us eternal life (cf Jn 10:15).

Allow yourself to be reconciled with God! (2 Cor 5:20): the cry that the apostle Paul issued to the first Christians in Corinth, is addressed to us today with the same force and conviction.  Allow yourself to be reconciled with God!  This Jubilee of Mercy is a time of reconciliation for everyone.  Many people would like to be reconciled with God, but they don't know how to go about it, or they don't feel worthy, or they don't want to admit it, even to themselves.  The Christian community can and must encourage a sincere return to God by all those who feel these sentiments.  Above all, those who offer the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18) are called to be docile instruments of the Holy Spirit so that where sin once abounded, the mercy of God may abound even more (cf Rm 5:20).  May no person have to remain distanced from God because of obstacles imposed by human beings!  This is equally true - and I say this with emphasis - for confessors - it is true for them: please, do not put obstacles in the path of people who want to be reconciled with God.  The confessor should be a father! He acts in place of God the Father!  The confessor should welcome people who come to him in order to be reconciled with God, and help them along the path toward this reconciliation that we are creating.  This is such a beautiful ministry: it is neither a torture room nor an interrogation, no, the Father receives and welcomes a person and forgives.  Let us allow ourselves to be reconciled with God!  All of us!  This Holy Year is a favourable time to rediscover the need for the tenderness and closeness of the Father, and to return to Him with all our hearts.

The experience of reconciliation with God permits us to discover the necessity for other forms of reconciliation: in families, in inter-personal relationships, in ecclesial communities, and also in social and international relationships.  Someone told me, in recent days, that there are more enemies in the world than there are friends, and I believe that he was right.  But no, let us also build bridges of reconciliation among ourselves, beginning within our own families.  How many brothers and sisters have fought with one another and have been distanced from one another merely because of matters pertaining to inheritances?  This is not right!  This year is the year of reconciliation, with God and among us!  In fact, reconciliation is also work for peace, toward the recognition of the fundamental rights of people, toward solidarity and the welcoming of all people.

Let us therefore accept the invitation to be reconciled with God, in order to become new creatures and to be able to radiate his mercy among our brothers, among all people.

Greetings to participants in the Jubilee of the Armed Forces and the Police
With joy, I welcome the representatives of the Armed Forces and the Police, from many parts of the world, who have come in pilgrimage to Rome on the occasion of the Extra-ordinary Jubilee of Mercy.  The Forces of order - both military and the police - have for their mission to ensure a safe environment, so that every citizen can live in peace and serenity.  In your families, in various dimensions in which you work, be instruments of reconciliation, builders of bridges and sowers of peace.  You are in fact called not only to prevent, manage and end conflicts, but also to contribute to the construction of order that is founded on truth, on justice, harmony and freedom, according to the definition of peace that was given by Saint John XXIII in his Encyclical Pacem in terris (cf PT 18 ff).

The affirmation of peace is not an easy task, above all because of war which dries up the heart and increases violence and hatred.  I exhort you to not be discouraged.  Continue your journey of faith and open your hearts to God our merciful Father who never grows tired of forgiving us.  Faced with everyday challenges, allow Christian hope to shine, the assurance of the victory of hope over hatred and of peace over war.

As he has done during other Jubilee Audiences, the text of Pope Francis' catechesis was then translated (in summary form) into various languages, and His Holiness offered personal greetings to each of the groups of pilgrims in attendance.  To English-speaking pilgrims, he said:

I greet the English-speaking visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from the armed forces and police agencies who have come from Canada, Kenya, Korea, the Philippines and the United States of America. I also greet the pilgrimage groups from Scotland and the United States. In the joy of the Risen Lord, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!
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