Christians aren't greater than God, must forgive as he does, pope says

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God wants people to be merciful,
which means forgiving others and giving freely with love, Pope Francis said.

“We don’t have the power to condemn our brother who
makes a mistake, we are not above him. Rather we have a duty to return him to
the dignity of a son of the father and to accompany him on his path of
conversion,” the pope said Sept. 21 at his weekly general audience.

In his talk, the pope focused on a reading from the
Gospel of Luke (6:36-38) in which Jesus tells the disciples to stop judging
others and be merciful just as God is.

The motto for the Year of Mercy, “Merciful Like the
Father,” comes from this biblical verse, the pope said.

But more than a pithy catchphrase, the motto is a
lifelong commitment to give to others the love one has received — without
merit — from God, he said. It is a call to reflect upon all that God does for
humanity so as to be inspired “to be like him, full of love, compassion
and mercy,” he said.

But what does it mean to be merciful, the pope asked his
audience. Jesus said it means to forgive and to give, he said.

Mercy is shown by forgiving and not judging and condemning,
the pope said.

“A Christian must forgive,” he said. “Why?
Because he was forgiven! All of us here in the square have been forgiven, not
one of us never needed God’s forgiveness in life.”

“If God has forgiven me, why shouldn’t I forgive
others? Am I greater than God?” the pope said, underlining that
“judging and condemning one’s brother who sins is wrong.”

“Not because one doesn’t want to recognize the sin,
but because to condemn the sinner breaks the bond of fraternity with him and
ignores the mercy of God, who does not want to give up on any of his

By asking his disciples not to condemn, “Jesus does
not mean to undermine the course of human justice,” Pope Francis said,
rather he shows that suspending judgment is needed to hold together a Christian
community and maintain fraternal ties.

The other essential element of mercy, he said, is that it
is freely giving to others because it flows from having received such abundant
gifts from God.

Also, by giving to others, God will return that measure
once again, showing “it is we ourselves who decide how we will be
judged” after death, the pope said.

For a Christian, he said, merciful love is the only path
to follow.

“We all need to be a little more merciful, to not
badmouth others, not judge, not rip people apart with criticism, envy,
jealousy,” he said.

By giving and forgiving, he said, one’s heart will expand
with love, while selfishness and hatred will turn the heart into a hard, tiny

“Which do you want?” he asked.

When people in the audience shouted “no” to
having “a heart of stone” and “yes” to a heart filled with
love, the pope said, “then be merciful.”

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article