Pope Francis dedicated his homily at Friday’s Mass to the mercy of God, emphasizing that while God is firm in his call for conversion, he is always waiting to receive the sinner with open arms. “The God of mercy; he does not tire of forgiving. We are the ones who tire in asking for forgiveness, but he does not tire,” the Pope observed in his March 28 Mass. Speaking to those gathered in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse chapel, the Roman Pontiff began by calling attention to the day’s first reading, taken from Hosea, in which the prophet encourages the people of Israel to return to the true God, and revealing to them the Lord’s desire to make them prosper and bear fruit. From this book we are able to see how God always speaks to his people with tenderness, the Pope reflected. Even when God is strict in his invitation to convert, Pope Francis observed, his words always include “this loving longing” which reflects the father’s words to the prodigal son, “Come back. It is time to come back home.” “This is the heart of our Father. God is like that: he does not tire, he does not tire. And God did this for many centuries, with so much apostasy… among the people. And he always returns, because our God is a God who waits.” Recalling how “Adam left paradise with a punishment but also with a promise,” the Roman Pontiff explained that “the Lord is faithful to his promise because he cannot deny himself.” “He is faithful. And, in this way, he waited for all of us, throughout all of history. He is the God who waits for us always.” Shifting his thoughts to the parable of the prodigal son, the Pope noted how Luke’s Gospel reveals to us that the father was waiting for his son’s return and that he “went onto the terrace every day to see if his son would return. He waited.” “When he saw him, he went out in haste and ‘threw himself on his neck,’” Pope Francis noted, emphasizing that although “the son had prepared some words to say,” his father “did not let him speak; his embrace covered his mouth.” Observing how there are some who are far from the Church who might say, “But father, I have so many sins, I do not know if he will be happy,” Pope Francis echoed the words a priest might say in response, encouraging the person “But try!” “If you want to know the tenderness of this Father, go to him and try. Then come and tell me.” Noting that God will not tire of forgiving us our sins, the Pope said: “Seventy times seven, always.” “Let us go forward with forgiveness,” Pope Francis stated, adding that “from a business point of view, the balance is negative. He always loses: he loses in the balance of things, but he wins in love.” However, God “is the first to fulfill the commandment of love,” he noted, highlighting that “he loves and does not know how to do otherwise.” Pope Francis concluded his homily by drawing attention to the miracles of healing which Jesus performed, explaining that the curing of the sick is “a sign of the great miracle that every day the Lord does with us when we have the courage to get up and go to him.” When a sinner returns to God, he does not celebrate “like the banquet of the rich man, who had the poor Lazarus at his door,” the Roman Pontiff observed, but rather, “he holds a banquet, like the father of the prodigal son.” Each person who has the courage to approach God “will find the joy” of his feast, the Pope stated, praying that all would “think of our Father, who waits for us always and who always forgives us and celebrates our return.”
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