God’s mercy is for everyone, and Jesus Christ is proof, Pope Francis said on Wednesday.
“In every moment of his earthly life, Jesus made mercy visible: meeting the crowds, announcing the Gospel, healing the sick, drawing close to the forgotten, pardoning sinners. He showed a love open to all, a love which was fulfilled on the cross,” the Pope said April 6.
The Pope spoke in St. Peter’s Square to a crowd gathered for his General Audience. His ongoing catechetical reflections on mercy have begun to focus on how Christ fulfills the promise of God’s mercy.
“From the cross, Jesus shows us that no one is excluded from God’s merciful love: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' We should, therefore, never fear to acknowledge and confess our sins, for the Sacrament of Reconciliation offers us the forgiveness which flows from the cross and which renews us in his grace.”
The Catholic Church is observing the Year of Mercy, giving special attention to the topic.
“Jesus did not bring hatred, nor did he bring enmity. He brought love, a great love, a heart open to all — to all of us — a love that saves,” Pope Francis continued. “In this Jubilee Year, let us embrace the Gospel with greater vigor and be heralds of the Father’s mercy and forgiveness.”
The Pope stressed the importance of forgiveness as a counter to fear.
“We are all sinners, but we are all forgiven: we all have the possibility of receiving this pardon, which is the mercy of God,” he said. “We need not fear, therefore, to recognize ourselves sinners, confess ourselves sinners, because every sin was carried by the Son to the Cross.”
Pope Francis reflected on the fact that before beginning his earthly ministry, Christ went to the Jordan to be baptized by St. John the Baptist, saying that “This event gives a decisive orientation to the entire mission of Christ.”
“In fact, he did not present himself to the world in the splendor of the temple: he could have done this. He was not announced with a trumpet blast: he could have done this. And he did not even come in the guise of a judge: he could have done this. Instead, after spending thirty years of his life in Nazareth, Jesus went to the Jordan river, together with so many of his people, and got in line with sinners.”
Christ “had no shame” in this, the Pope said. “He was there with everyone, with sinners, to be baptized. Therefore, from the beginning of his ministry, he was manifested as the Messiah who took on the human condition, moved by solidarity and by compassion.”