On the Parables of Mercy (24C)
"The Road That Jesus Shows"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 16, 2007 (www.zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with the people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today the liturgy re-proposes for our meditation the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, one of the high points and one of the most moving of all pages of sacred Scripture. It is beautiful to think that wherever in the whole world the Christian community gathers to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, there resounds on this day this good news of truth and of salvation: God is merciful love. The evangelist Luke has gathered together three parables of divine mercy in this chapter. The two shorter ones that are also found in Matthew and Mark are those of the lost sheep and the lost coin; the third one -- long, detailed and unique to Luke’s Gospel -- is the celebrated parable of the merciful Father, typically referred to as the "parable of the prodigal son."
In this page of the Gospel it seems as though we can almost hear the voice of Jesus, who reveals the countenance of his Father and our Father. At bottom, this is what he came into the world for: To speak to us of the Father; to make him known to us, lost children, and to reawaken in our hearts the joy of belonging to him, the hope of being forgiven and restored to our full dignity, the desire to live in his house forever, the house that is also our house.
Jesus recounted the three parables of mercy because the Pharisees and the scribes spoke ill of him, seeing that he allowed sinners to draw near to him and he even ate with them (cf. Luke 15:1-3). Thus, he explained, with his usual language, that God does not want even one of his children to be lost and his soul overflows with joy when a sinner converts. True religion therefore consists in being in tune with this heart "rich in mercy," which asks us to love everyone, even those who are distant and those who are our enemies, imitating the heavenly Father who respects everyone’s freedom and draws all to himself with the invincible force of his fidelity. This is the road that Jesus shows to those who want to be his disciples: "Do not judge … do not condemn … forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you … be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful" (Luke 6:36-38). In these parables we find very concrete indications for our daily conduct as believers.
In our time, humanity needs the mercy of God to be vigorously proclaimed and witnessed to. The beloved John Paul II, who was a great apostle of divine mercy, intuited this pastoral urgency. He dedicated his second encyclical to the merciful Father and throughout his pontificate he was a missionary of mercy to all nations. After the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, which obscured the dawn of the third millennium, he invited Christians and men of good will to believe that God’s mercy is stronger than every evil and that in the cross of Christ there is found the salvation of the world. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, whom we contemplated yesterday as the sorrowful one at the foot of the cross, obtain for us the gift of always trusting in the love of God, and may she help us to be merciful as our Father in heaven.
[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo in Italian, saying:]
This morning in Poland, at the shrine of Lichen, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my secretary of state, in my name proclaimed as blessed Father Stanislao Papczynski, founder of the Congregation of Marian Clerics. I address a cordial greeting to the faithful gathered together for this happy occasion and to the many people who are devoted to this newly beatified son of the Church in whom they venerate a priest who was exemplary in preaching, in the formation of the laity, a father of the poor and an apostle of intercessory prayer for the dead.
And also this morning in Bordeaux, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, in my name proclaimed as blessed Sister Marie Celine of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a professed nun of the Second Order of St. Francis. She wanted her life, which was marked by the cross, to be a sign of Christ’s love, as she herself said: "I thirst to be a rose of charity."
I would also like to mention Father Basile Antoine-Marie Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, who was beatified yesterday in Le Mans by Cardinal Saraiva Martins. I entrust in a special way to the intercession of these newly beatified their spiritual sons and daughters, that they follow with ardor the luminous testimony of the prophets of God, who is Lord of every life.
Today is the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the "Montreal Protocol" on the substances that deplete the ozone layer, causing grave damage for human beings and the ecosystem. In the last two decades, thanks to exemplary collaboration between politicians, scientists and economists within the international community, important results have been obtained with positive repercussions on present and future generations. I desire that, on the part of everyone, cooperation intensify to the end of promoting the common good, development, and the safeguarding of creation, returning to the alliance between man and the environment, which must be a mirror of God the Creator, from whom we come and toward whom we are journeying.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[In English, the Holy Father said:]
I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear of God’s infinite merciful love for all those who stray from the right path. With great confidence we turn to him and ask his forgiveness for the times we may have offended him. Upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[Again in Italian, the Holy Father said:]
I am happy to welcome the prior general and the confreres of the Order of St. Augustine, who are celebrating their general chapter in these days. I assure them of a remembrance in prayer, that the Lord favor with abundant graces the work of the chapter and the life of the entire order in the various countries of the world in which it is present.