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Divine Mercy Sunday 2013

Papa Francesco's words at the Regina Caeli in St Peter's Square
Divine Mercy Sunday, 7 April 2013 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
On this Sunday which brings the Octave of Easter to a close I renew to everyone my good wishes for Easter in the very words of the Risen Jesus: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20, 19, 21, 26). This is not a greeting nor even a simple good wish: it is a gift, indeed, the precious gift that Christ offered his disciples after he had passed through death and hell.

He gives peace, as he had promised: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14, 27). This peace is the fruit of the victory of God’s love over evil, it is the fruit of forgiveness. And it really is like this: true peace, that profound peace, comes from experiencing God’s mercy. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, as John Paul II — who closed his eyes to the world on the eve of this very day — wanted it to be.

John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus appeared twice to the Apostles enclosed in the Upper Room: the first time on the evening of the Resurrection itself and on that occasion Thomas, who said unless I see and touch I will not believe, was absent. The second time, eight days later, Thomas was there as well. And Jesus said, speaking directly to him, I invite you to look at my wounds, to touch them; then Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20, 28). So Jesus said: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (v 29); and who were those who believed without seeing? Other disciples, other men and women of Jerusalem, who, on the testimony of the Apostles and the women, believed, even though they had not met the Risen Jesus. This is a very important word about faith, we can call it the beatitude of faith. Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed: this is the beatitude of faith! In every epoch and in every place blessed are those who, on the strength of the word of God proclaimed in the Church and witnessed by Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the love of God incarnate, Mercy incarnate. And this applies for each one of us!

As well as his peace Jesus gave the Apostles the Holy Spirit so that they could spread the forgiveness of sins in the world, that forgiveness which only God can give and which came at the price of the Blood of the Son (cf Jn 20, 21-23). The Church is sent by the Risen Christ to pass on to men and women the forgiveness of sins and thereby make the Kingdom of love grow, to sow peace in hearts so that they may also be strengthened in relationships, in every society, in institutions.

And the Spirit of the Risen Christ drove out fear from the Apostles’ hearts and impelled them to leave the Upper Rome in order to spread the Gospel. Let us too have greater courage in witnessing to our faith in the Risen Christ! We must not be afraid of being Christian and living as Christians! We must have this courage to go and proclaim the Risen Christ, for he is our peace, he made peace with his love, with his forgiveness, with his Blood and with his mercy.

Dear friends, this afternoon I shall celebrate the Eucharist in the Basilica of St John Lateran, which is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. Together let us pray to the Virgin Mary that she help us, Bishop and People, to walk in faith and charity, ever trusting in the Lord’s mercy: he always awaits us, loves us, has pardoned us with his Blood and pardons us every time we go to him to ask his forgiveness. Let us trust in his mercy!"

After the Regina Caeli:

"I address a cordial greeting to the pilgrims who have taken part in Holy Mass at which the Cardinal Vicar of Rome presided in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, a centre of devotion to Divine Mercy. Dear brothers and sisters, may you be messengers and witnesses of God’s mercy!

I am glad to greet the many members of the movements and associations present at our moment of prayer, particularly the Neocatechumenal communities of Rome which today are beginning a special mission in the squares of the city. I invite everyone to spread the Good News in every walk of life “with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pt 3:15)! Go out into the squares and proclaim Jesus Christ, Our Saviour!

I greet all the children and young people present and in particular the students of the Collège Saint-Jean de Passy in Paris and of the Giuseppe Mazzini School in Marsala, as well as the group of altar-servers from Taranto.

I greet the Choir of the Basilica of Collemaggio, Aquila, the faithful of Campoverde, Aprilia, Verolanuova and Valentano, and the Foulard Bianchi Scout community.

May the Lord bless you, and have a good lunch!"

Pope Francis's Homily at Mass for the Possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome
in the Basilica of St John Lateran, Rome
Evening of Divine Mercy Sunday, 7 April 2013 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish    

"It is with joy that I am celebrating the Eucharist for the first time in this Lateran Basilica, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with great affection: my very dear Cardinal Vicar, the auxiliary bishops, the diocesan presbyterate, the deacons, the men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I also greet the Mayor, his wife and all the authorities present. Together let us walk in the light of the risen Lord.

1. Today we are celebrating the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as "Divine Mercy Sunday". What a beautiful truth of faith this is for our lives: the mercy of God! God’s love for us is so great, so deep; it is an unfailing love, one which always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up and leads us on.

2. In today’s Gospel, the Apostle Thomas personally experiences this mercy of God, which has a concrete face, the face of Jesus, the risen Jesus. Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: "We have seen the Lord". It isn’t enough for him that Jesus had foretold it, promised it: "On the third day I will rise". He wants to see, he wants to put his hand in the place of the nails and in Jesus’ side. And how does Jesus react? With patience: Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief; he gives him a week’s time, he does not close the door, he waits. And Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. "My Lord and my God!": with this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by divine mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in his open side, and he discovers trust: he is a new man, no longer an unbeliever, but a believer.

Let us also remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: "Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in me". Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus, and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus – how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!

Let us think too of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus: their sad faces, their barren journey, their despair. But Jesus does not abandon them: he walks beside them, and not only that! Patiently he explains the Scriptures which spoke of him, and he stays to share a meal with them. This is God’s way of doing things: he is not impatient like us, who often want everything all at once, even in our dealings with other people. God is patient with us because he loves us, and those who love are able to understand, to hope, to inspire confidence; they do not give up, they do not burn bridges, they are able to forgive. Let us remember this in our lives as Christians: God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind! He is never far from us, and if we return to him, he is ready to embrace us.

I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father; it impresses me because it always gives me great hope. Think of that younger son who was in the Father’s house, who was loved; and yet he wants his part of the inheritance; he goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom, where he could not be more distant from the Father, yet when he is at his lowest, he misses the warmth of the Father’s house and he goes back. And the Father? Had he forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar, he was waiting for him every hour of every day, the son was always in his father’s heart, even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: he has returned! And that is the joy of the Father. In that embrace for his son is all this joy: he has returned! God is always waiting for us, he never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence, hope – always! A great German theologian, Romano Guardini, said that God responds to our weakness by his patience, and this is the reason for our confidence, our hope (cf Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg, 1949, p28). It is like a dialogue between our weakness and the patience of God, it is a dialogue that if we do it, will give us hope.

3. I would like to emphasize one other thing: God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. Jesus tells Thomas to put his hand in the wounds of his hands and his feet, and in his side. We too can enter into the wounds of Jesus, we can actually touch him. This happens every time that we receive the sacraments with faith. Saint Bernard, in a fine homily, says: "Through the wounds of Jesus I can suck honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock (cf Deut 32, 13), I can taste and see the goodness of the Lord" (The Song of Songs, 61, 4). It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. Thomas understood this. St Bernard goes on to ask: But what can I count on? My own merits? No, "My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits" (ibid 5). This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. St Bernard even states: "So what if my conscience gnaws at me for my many sins? ‘Where sin has abounded, there grace has abounded all the more’ (Rom 5, 20)". Perhaps some of us may think: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable, my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said: "Father, I have many sins"; and I have always pleaded: "Don’t be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything". We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important thing to him; even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.

Adam, after his sin, experiences shame, he feels naked, he senses the weight of what he has done; and yet God does not abandon him: if that moment of sin marks the beginning of his exile from God, there is already a promise of return, a possibility of return. God immediately asks: "Adam, where are you?" He seeks him out. Jesus took on our nakedness, he took upon himself the shame of Adam, the nakedness of his sin, in order to wash away our sin: by his wounds we have been healed. Remember what Saint Paul says: "What shall I boast of, if not my weakness, my poverty? Precisely in feeling my sinfulness, in looking at my sins, I can see and encounter God’s mercy, his love, and go to him to receive forgiveness.

In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love."



"Brothers and Sisters, Good Evening!
Thank you very much for your company in the Mass today. Thank you very much! I ask that you pray for me, I need it. Never forget this. Thank you everyone!

And let us go forward all together, the people and the Bishop, all together; forward always with the joy of the Resurrection of Jesus; He is always at our side.
May the Lord bless you!"

After he blessed the crowd, he said:

"Thank you so much! See you soon!"



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