When God forgives, “he throws a party,” said Pope Francis this morning. “It’s God’s job to forgive,” he added, “and it’s a beautiful job.”
The Pope has started celebrating his daily Masses at his residence in the Casa Santa Marta again, after a week away for his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. This morning he spoke about a favorite theme of his: God’s mercy.
The Pope said that God “never gets tired of forgiving. We are the ones that get tired of asking forgiveness.”
“God always forgives!” he said.
Francis recalled that when the apostle Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive his brother, Jesus responded: “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” That is, the Pope said, “always.”
“That’s how God forgives: always,” he said.
“Even if you have lived a life of many sins, many bad things,” the Pope said, “but in the end, you repent and ask forgiveness, He forgives you immediately! He always forgives.”
He also suggested that the question might “arise in the human heart” as to “how much” God is willing to forgive. “There is no sin that He does not forgive. He forgives everything,” he said.
“You don’t have to pay anything,” Francis said, because “Christ already paid for us.”
The Pope also referred to those who don’t go to confession because they have done so many bad things that they don’t believe God will forgive them. “No,” he said. “That’s not true. He forgives everything. If you are sorry, he forgives everything.”
The Pope also said that God not only forgives, he also “forgets.” Because what matters to God “is to be with us,” he said.
Francis also offered advice to priests who hear other people’s confessions. He suggested they examine their conscience, asking themselves: “Am I willing to forgive everything? And to forget the sins of that person?” Confession, he said, “is not a judgment; it is an encounter.”
Francis said that many times confession can seem like a formality, all mechanical. “And where is the encounter? The encounter with the Lord that reconciles, embraces you and celebrates?” he asked.
“This is our God,” he said, “so good.” We have to teach our children to confess well, he said, since going to confession is not like “going to the dry cleaners to take away a stain.” No! he said: “It is going to meet the Father, who reconciles, forgives and throws a party.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.