Elise Harris. Vatican City, Apr 30, 2016 / 04:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Reconciliation is an essential aspect of God’s mercy, Pope Francis said Saturday, explaining that when we distance ourselves from the Lord through sin, it takes much more than our own effort to get back to him.
Referencing St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, Pope Francis urged all members of the Church April 30 to “let yourselves be reconciled with God.”
“The cry of the apostle Paul addressed to the first Christians of Corinth is valid for us today, with the same strength and conviction,” he said, explaining that the ongoing Jubilee of Mercy is a time of reconciliation for everyone.
"God never considers the possibility that a person remains estranged from his love, provided, however, that he finds in them some sign of repentance for the harm done," he said, adding that "we can't reconcile with God with our own efforts."
Many people would like to reconcile with God, but either don’t know how, don’t feel worthy or “don’t want to admit it even to themselves,” he said, but affirmed that the Christian community “can and must support the sincere return to God of those who feel his nostalgia.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square during his Jubilee general audience, which he decided to hold once a month on a Saturday for the duration of the Jubilee.
The audience also marked a special day jubilee for military, police and firefighters, who were present in the square alongside their families.
At Francis’ invitation, roughly 8,000 members of the international humanitarian organization Rotary were also present. A delegation of members, including Rotary President K.R. Ravindran and General secretary John Hewko, greeted the Pope after the audience had finished.
The Pope continued is catechesis on mercy as understood in scripture, focusing his speech on the topic of reconciliation, which he said is “an important aspect of mercy.”
“Often times we believe that our sins distance the Lord from us: in reality, in sinning, we distance ourselves from him,” Francis said, explaining that it is out of God’s mercy that he comes in search of us when he sees that we are in danger.
He stressed that reconciling with God is impossible with our efforts alone, since sin “is truly an expression of rejecting his love, with the consequence of closing in on ourselves, deceiving ourselves in the search of greater freedom and autonomy.”
“In being far from God we no longer have a goal, and from pilgrims in this world we become wanderers,” he said, explaining that to sin is like turning one’s back on God.
“The sinner sees only themselves and pretends in this way to be self-sufficient. Because of this, sin always widens the distance between us and God, and this can become an abyss,” Francis said.
However, as the Good Shepherd, Jesus always comes in search of his lost sheep. He rebuilds the bridge that reunites us to the Father and allows us rediscover the dignity of being his children, the Pope added.
Pope Francis then spoke about the importance of confession and the need to reconcile with God through the sacrament, stressing that “a confessor must be a father” and help penitents to walk along the path of reconciliation.
He also prayed that no one would remain distant from God due to obstacles put in their way by others, and asked that “please, don’t put obstacles in the way of people who want to reconcile with God.”
To experience reconciliation with God also allows a person to rediscover the need for reconciliation in other relationships, such as within our families, in interpersonal relationships, in ecclesial communities, and in social and international relationships, he said.
“Reconciliation in fact is also a service for peace, for the recognition of the fundamental rights of people, of solidarity and of welcome for all.”
Pope Francis closed his address by urging attendees to accept St. Paul’s invitation “to be reconciled with God, to become new creations and to be able to radiate his mercy in the midst of our brothers, in the midst of the people.”
After the audience, he offered special comments to members of the military, the police force and firefighters present, saying they are “instruments of reconciliation and builders of peace.”
He told that that in their roles, “you are responsible for preventing, managing and ending conflicts, but also to contributing to the building of an order founded on freedom, justice, love and liberty.”