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Monday, February 22, 2016

Jubilee audience: mercy and commitment

Vatican City, 20 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning fifty thousand people attended the Holy Father's Jubilee audience in St. Peter's Square, following his return on Thursday from his apostolic trip in Mexico. The Pope's catechesis was on the theme of the commitment Christians are called to make to offer a concrete sign of God's closeness to the people they encounter.

"The Jubilee of Mercy is an opportunity to enter in depth into the mystery of God's goodness and love", he said. "In this Lenten time, the Church invites us to get to know better the Lord Jesus, and to live faith in a way coherent with a lifestyle that expresses the Father's mercy. My life, my attitude, my way of going about the world must be a concrete sign of the fact that God is close to us. Little gestures of love, of tenderness, of attention, that let us think that the Lord is with us, close to us. In this way we open the door of mercy".

For this, it is necessary to be committed, and this means assuming a responsibility, a task in relation to someone, and fulfilling it with fidelity, dedication and care. "Every day we are asked to commit ourselves to the things we do: in prayer, in work, in study, even in sport. … In short, committing oneself means acting with good will and effort to improve life", explained the Pope.

"God too has committed Himself to us", he continued. "His first commitment was that of creating the world, and despite our attempts to spoil it, He is committed to keeping it alive. But His greatest commitment was that of giving Jesus to us. … St. Paul recalls this when he writes that God 'did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all'.And, by virtue of this, together with Jesus the Father will give us everything we need".

In the Gospel it is very easy to see how God's commitment to us is made manifest. "In Jesus, God commits Himself fully in order to restore hope to the poor, to those who are deprived of their dignity, to outsiders, the sick, the imprisoned, and to sinners who welcome Him with good will. In all of this, Jesus was the living expression of the Father's mercy". Francis highlighted the fact that Jesus' welcome to sinners: "if we think of it in a human way, the sinner would be an enemy of Jesus, an enemy of God, but He drew close to them with goodness, He loved them and He changed their heart. We are all sinners, all of us. We all have some blame before God. But we must not be distrustful: He draws close to us to offer us consolation, mercy and forgiveness. This is God's commitment, and this is why He sent Jesus to us, to be close to us, to all of us, and to open the door of His love, His heart and His mercy".

Taking as a starting point the merciful love with which Jesus expressed God's commitment, we too can and must match His love with our effort, especially in the situations of greatest need, when there is the greatest thirst for hope. I think of our efforts with abandoned people, with those who have very serious disabilities, with the gravely ill, with the dying, and with those who are no longer able to express their gratitude. … We bring God's mercy to all these situations through commitment in life, which bears witness to our faith in Jesus. We must always bring with us this caress from God – because God has caressed us with His mercy – to those who are in need of it, to those who have suffering in their heart or who are sad. We must approach them with that caress from God, which is the same one God gave to us".

Francis concluded his catechesis by expressing his hope that the Jubilee may contribute to helping our mind and our heart to be profoundly aware of God's commitment to each one of us, and in this way, transform our life in a commitment to mercy for all.

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