by Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus welcomed sinners in his day and continues to do so today, opening their hearts to recognize their errors and bringing God’s mercy and pardon, Pope Francis said.
“If we think of this in a human way, the sinner would be an enemy of Jesus, an enemy of God, yet he drew near to them with goodness, loved them and changed their hearts,” the pope said Feb. 20 during one of his special jubilee general audiences.
“All of us are sinners, all of us!” the pope said. “Before God, we all have some fault. Yet we should not lose heart: He is close to us to give us comfort, mercy, forgiveness.”
In his audience talk, Pope Francis focused on the word “commitment,” both the commitment of God to save humanity and the commitment Christians should have to share the Gospel in word and deed.
“When I make a commitment, it means that I assume a responsibility,” the pope said. And it also implies “an attitude of fidelity and dedication, of particular attention” to carrying out a certain task.
God is committed to humanity, the pope said. His commitment is seen in “creating the world and, despite our attempts to ruin it — and there have been many — his commitment to keeping it alive.”
But the greatest sign of God’s commitment — his “extreme commitment” to humanity — is his decision to send his son to save us, Pope Francis said. “In Jesus, God make a complete commitment to restoring hope to the poor, to those deprived of their dignity, to the foreigner, the sick, prisoners and to sinners, whom he welcomed with goodness.”
Christians, he said, must make a commitment to ensuring others experience that closeness, mercy and forgiveness of God.
“This is especially true in situations of greatest need, where there is more of a thirst for hope,” he said. “For example, I am thinking of our commitment to people who are abandoned, those who have severe handicapping conditions, the seriously ill [and] the dying.”
“We always must transmit the caress of God, because God has caressed us with his mercy,” Pope Francis said. “Carry it to others, to those who need it, to those who are suffering in their hearts or are sad. Draw near to them with the caress of God, which is the same caress he has given us.”