God excludes no one from his love; offers mercy, not hate, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus brought humanity God’s
merciful, saving love, not hatred and animosity, Pope Francis said.

“Jesus makes visible a love open to everyone —
nobody excluded — open to everyone without bounds,” he said at his weekly
general audience in St. Peter’s Square April 6.

The pope also met with and blessed the eyes of 5-year-old
Lizzy Myers from Mansfield, Ohio.

Struck by a rare disease that is gradually rendering her
deaf and blind, Myers was in Rome after a representative from Turkish Airlines
heard about her story and offered her and her family free round-trip airfare to
any city in the world.

Her parents, Steve and Christine Myers, had created a
“visual bucket list” of places and things they wanted Lizzy to see
before she loses her sight due to Usher Syndrome Type II A. They chose Rome and
the Vatican to be their special destination because they are Catholic and
because of the city’s artistic and historical riches, they told Associated

After meeting with bishops and a few special delegations
at the end of his general audience, Pope Francis went directly to Lizzy Myers, who was seated with her family in a section reserved for those with special
needs. He leaned over her for several minutes, speaking with her and then laid
his right hand over her eyes, offering his blessing.

During his general audience, the pope continued a series
of talks dedicated to God’s mercy and reflected on how this mercy was fulfilled
in Jesus.

The New Testament “is truly the ‘Gospel of mercy’
because Jesus is mercy,” he said.

At every moment in his life, Jesus showed love to
everyone: a love that is “pure, free and absolute,” the pope said.

Jesus began his mission of mercy with his baptism in the
Jordan River, the pope said, waiting in line “with the sinners, he wasn’t
ashamed, he was there with everyone, with the sinners, to get baptized.”

He could have begun his public ministry with lots of
fanfare, “in the splendor of the temple,” to the “blast of
trumpets” or “in the garments of a judge,” but he didn’t, the
pope said. Instead he chose to be with the people, taking on “the human
condition, spurred by solidarity and compassion.”

His driving purpose was “to bring everyone the love
of God who saves; Jesus didn’t bring hatred, he didn’t bring animosity, he
brought us love, a great love, an open heart for everyone, for all of us,”
the pope said.

Jesus accompanied the least and the marginalized, sharing
with them “the mercy of God who is forgiveness, joy and new life. The son
sent by the father is truly the beginning of the time of mercy for all of

The great mystery of this love is seen in the crucified
Christ, the pope said, because “it is on the cross that Jesus offered to
the father’s mercy the sin of the world, everyone’s sins, my sins, your
sins” and took those sins away.

“Nothing and no one remains excluded from this
sacrificial prayer of Jesus,” which means “we mustn’t be afraid to
acknowledge and confess ourselves as sinners,” he said.

So often “we say, ‘well, that one is a sinner, this
one did such-and-such.’ We accuse others of being sinners, and you? Each one of
us should ask ourselves, ‘Yes, that one is a sinner, and me?'”

“We are all sinners, but we are all forgiven,”
Pope Francis said. “We all have the possibility of receiving this
forgiveness that is God’s mercy.”

The sacrament of reconciliation, he said, gives the
penitent heart “the strength of the forgiveness that flows from the cross
and renews in our lives the grace of mercy that Jesus obtained for us.”

People never need to fear their burdens and sins because
“the power of love of the crucified one knows no obstacles and never runs
out” as it wipes away human sin, he said.

When greeting special delegations at the end of his
audience, the pope met with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who was
heading to Iraqi Kurdistan to show solidarity with the church there. The
cardinal, who is chairman of the board of the Catholic Near East Welfare
Association, was traveling there with other members of CNEWA and church

The pope also met briefly with and posed for a group
photo with members of a diocesan pastoral association in Italy for separated
and divorced Catholics.

A representative of the group, “L’Anello
Perduto,” (the lost ring), had received a phone call from the pope in
February, according to Vatican Radio, after group members sent a letter
explaining their formation program and requesting a papal audience.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. 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 cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article