In his Sunday Angelus, the Holy Father said the “joy of God” is ultimately found in pardoning another for his wrongdoing, just as in the parable of the Prodigal Son.
“What is the joy of God? It is to forgive!” the Pope told pilgrims Sept. 15, explaining that in this teaching “is the whole Gospel, it is all of Christianity!”
Forgiveness, he warned, “is not a sentiment – it is not 'feeling good' – on the contrary, mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the cancer that is sin, bad morality or bad spirituality.”
“Only love fills up the emptiness, the negative chasms that evil opens in hearts and in history,” continued the Pontiff.
God alone is complete mercy and love, while each of us is the Prodigal Son who has “squandered his own freedom following false idols, mirages of happiness, and have lost everything.”
“But God does not forget us,” the Holy Father added. “The Father never abandons us. He is a patient Father. He always respects us. He respects our freedom but remains always faithful.”
Like the father of the Prodigal Son, “when we return to Him, he welcomes us as children, in his house, because he never gives up waiting for us with love, not even for a moment. And his heart is in celebration for every child that returns.”
This “celebration” is found in the joy that God has “for each of us who returns to Him and asks His forgiveness.”
We need never fear approaching God, but should rather remember that God “always awaits us” when we seek his mercy.
However, we must be aware of certain “dangers” that must be avoided, especially acting as judges rather than leaving that to God.
“We presume to be judges and we judge others,” he said. “We judge God, too, because we think that he should punish sinners, condemn them to death, instead of forgiving them.”
“The devil is shrewd,” added Pope Francis. He “deceives us with the idea that our human justice can save us and save the world. In reality, only the justice of God can save us!”
God’s justice is very different from that proposed by the devil. “The justice of God is revealed in the Cross.” There we see how God judges: by “giving his life for us!”
Jesus’ sacrifice of his life on the Cross is the “supreme act of justice” and is “also precisely an act of mercy.”
Every Christian is called to this kind of mercy, exhorted Pope Francis. “Jesus calls all of us to follow this path: ‘be merciful, as your Father is merciful.’”
The Holy Father encouraged his audience to examine their own hearts to see where they may need to extend mercy and forgiveness.
“Everyone in silence think of someone with whom things aren’t going well: someone we are angry at, someone we don’t wish well. Think of this person, and in silence in this moment let’s pray for this person and become merciful towards this person.”
After leading the crowds in the traditional Angelus prayer, Pope Francis remembered the witness of the Argentine priest Father Jose Gabriel Brochero, who was beatified on Sept. 14.
Fr. Brochero’s service for the kingdom of God even until the end of his life as a blind leper, was a witness of “the joy of the good Shepherd,” he said.