Recalling the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Pope Francis says when a person’s heart is synchronized with God and sees the repentance of a person for their mistakes, they rejoice. May we also rejoice by receiving God’s mercy so it becomes the light by which we see our neighbours.
Before leading the recitation of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis offered his weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel which this week spoke of the Parable of the Prodigal Son that recounts how God “always forgives compassionately and tenderly.” The Pope pointed out how we learn that God is a Father who forgives even our worst sins, welcomes us back and rejoices by having a feast for us.
“We are that son, and it is moving to think about how much the Father always loves us and waits for us.”
Opening our hearts
The Pope then recalled that the parable recounts how the older brother was angry when their father welcomed back the prodigal son, who had squandered all he had leading a dissolute life before returning to ask for forgiveness. The older brother’s attitude is present in all of us too, the Pope pointed out, where we are tempted to become angry by believing our relationship is only about duty and observance of commands, whereas we forget about God’s boundless mercy, compassion and love as a Father. He added that we too must see the risk for basing our relationship with God in a way that distances us from him by our rigidity.
Be merry and rejoice
The Pope then recounts when the Father in the parable pleads with the older son to open his heart to welcoming his younger brother, when the Father opens his own heart and says: “It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive.” The Pope said we too should reflect a moment and see if we also have these two things the Father needs in our hearts: “to make merry and rejoice.”
Close to those who repent
“To make merry,” the Pope explained, means to show we are close to those who repent or are in the process of doing so, even those still in crisis or who are far away. By doing so, we can deal better with our own fear and discouragement that comes from recalling our own mistakes, he added. Like the Father, we must offer everyoone a warm welcome and encouragement, as distance and condemnation do not help. We too must reach out to those who are far away, and be there, to encourage them and to celebrate with them when they change their ways for the better.
“How much good an open heart, true listening, a transparent smile can do; to celebrate, not to make them feel uncomfortable!”
Hearts synchronized with God
The Pope then added that “we need to rejoice.” If our hearts are really “synchronized with God,” when we see someone’s repentance – no matter how serious the mistakes – we rejoice, we cannot remain pointing fingers at what they did wrong, but we rejoice together for the good that has been chosen. So let us all learn how to rejoice for and together with others.
“May the Virgin Mary teach us how to receive God’s mercy so that it might become the light by which we see our neighbours.”
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.