Pope at Angelus: God forgives us incalculably

At the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis reminds us to always forgive, like Jesus did in His infinite mercy, noting that imitating God's incalculable, loving mercy restores peace to our hearts.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis has called on Christians to be merciful, and to forgive, incalculably, like Jesus.

He did so during his Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter's Square, as he reflected on the day's Gospel reading according to St. Matthew, which centers on forgiveness.

Seventy-seven times

In that reading, St. Peter asks Jesus: 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother if he sins against me? As many as seven times?' (v. 21). The Pope explained that the number seven, in the Bible, is a number that indicates completeness, and therefore, Peter "was very generous in the assumptions of his question."

"But Jesus," Pope Francis observes, "goes further and answers him: 'I do not say to you up to seven, but up to seventy times seven.'"

“Jesus tells him, that is, that when you forgive, you do not calculate, that it is good to forgive everything and always!”

God, Pope Francis said, has done this with us; likewise, he noted, those who administer God's forgiveness, are called to do the same, "to forgive always."

God forgives incalculably

"Jesus' message," the Pope said, "is clear: God forgives incalculably, exceeding all measure."

“Jesus' message is clear:God forgives incalculably, exceeding all measure”

God acts out of love and gratuitousness, the Pope said, observing, "We cannot repay Him, but when we forgive our brother or sister, we imitate Him. Forgiveness is therefore not a good deed, that one can do or not do."

The Pope said this constitutes "a fundamental condition" for those who are Christians. "God has given His life for us and in no way, can we compensate for His mercy..."

Like oxygen

However, by corresponding to His gratuitousness, that is, by forgiving one another, the Pope said, we can bear witness to Him, sowing new life around us. "For outside of forgiveness there is no hope; outside of forgiveness there is no peace," he said.

"Forgiveness," the Holy Father argued, "is the oxygen that purifies the air polluted by hatred, it is the antidote that heals the poisons of resentment, it is the way to defuse anger and heal so many diseases of the heart that contaminate society."

Questions to ponder

The Pope urged the faithful to ask themselves some key questions.

“Do I believe that I have received from God the gift of immense forgiveness? Do I feel the joy of knowing that He is always ready to forgive me when I fall, even when others do not, even when even I cannot forgive myself?”

In this context, the Pope continued, we must ask whether we, in turn, "forgive those who have hurt me?"

Some homework

With this in mind, Pope Francis said he wished to propose "a small exercise."

“Let us try, now, each of us, to think of a person who has hurt us, and let us ask the Lord for the strength to forgive them. And let us forgive them out of love for the Lord.”

"It will do us good, it will restore peace in our hearts," the Pope said.

Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us to accept God's grace and forgive one another.

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17 September 2023, 12:09