Pope Francis says that only if we allow our hearts, God doesn’t want to condemn anyone; he wants to save every person in the entire world.
Addressing the thousands of faithful gathered on a hot Wednesday at St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address, Pope Francis centered his catechesis precisely on God’s divine mercy, pointing to the relationship between divine mercy and divine justice.
“The problem is only if we allow our hearts to be opened by God’s love. This is the heart of God, the heart of a father who loves his children and wants them to live rightly and justly and, therefore, to live in fullness and be happy.”
“It might seem that they are two things that contradict each other,” the Holy Father said, but they don’t because “it is precisely God’s mercy that brings true justice to fruition.”
He further made it clear to them that the human administration of justice is quite different from way of God’s justice, describing it as “retributive” that inflicts consequences on the guilty.
“This path still does not lead to true justice because it doesn’t actually conquer evil but simply contains it, Rather, it is only by responding to (evil) with the good that evil truly can be overcome.”
Highlighting the words from the Bible, the Pope said that true justice bypasses a court system. The one who is wronged goes directly to the one who is guilty “in order to invite him to conversion, to help him to understand that he is doing wrong, to appeal to his conscience.”
This is the way that families try to work out their conflicts, he said. The one who has been offended “loves the culprit and wants to salvage the relationship that binds them, not cut off this relationship,” he said. But it is not an easy path to take. Explaining he said, reconciliation presupposes forgiveness. If we forgive someone, we need to be open to reconciliation, if possible. Reconciliation is forgiveness in action, the actual restoration of the interpersonal bond between two people, in mutual acceptance of each other for who each one is.
The Holy Father explains that reciprocating acts of forgiveness and conversion are only means through which justice can triumph, because “if the guilty one recognizes the evil committed and stops doing it, then the evil is no more and the one who was unjust becomes just.”
“This is how God acts with us sinners,” he said. God constantly offers forgiveness and helps people recognize their sin in order to set them free.
The Argentine Pontiff also noted that, “God doesn’t seek our condemnation, but our salvation. God doesn’t want to condemn anybody,” not even those whom many think deserve it like Pontius Pilate or Judas, the Lord of mercy wants to save everybody.”
The Pope explained that God’s forgiveness of us and our sins against Him is unconditional and absolute. God does not reject us, objectify us, or bear anger or resentment against us.
This is the kind of paternal heart people want to encounter in the confessional. While the priest offers to help the repentant person to understand the gravity of his offenses, penitent, we all go to the confessional to find a father, a father who helps us change our life, a father who gives us the strength to go on, a father who forgives us in the name of God,” the pope continued.
Sin ruptures our relationship with God and others, that is why the sacrament of penance or reconciliation is such a huge task for the priest, the pope said, because the people “who come to you are just looking for a father” and the priest in the confessional is there “in the place of the father who brings justice with his mercy.”
The Holy Father concluded by greeting members of the American Circus, and reminding the faithful to pray for him.