(Vatican Radio) “God is greater than all the sins we may commit! God is greater than our sin!” That’s what Pope Francis reminded pilgrims at the General Audience Wednesday 30 March. In his remarks in Italian, the Pope said God's infinite mercy wipes away our sins like the dry cleaner eliminates the stains from our clothes.
But “divine forgiveness is supremely effective,” noted the Pope. Unlike the dry cleaner, however, “it doesn’t hide the sin; it destroys it and cancels it… God eliminates our sin from its very roots – all of it!”
In his catechesis, Pope Francis reflected on the penitential prayer Psalm 51 from the Old Testament. In ancient Hebrew tradition, the Pope noted, the psalm refers to a penitent King David who, trusting in God’s mercy, humbly prays for forgiveness after he committed not simply “a small lie” but the great sins of adultery and murder.
Pope Francis invited those gathered in Saint Peter’s square to raise their hands if any among them had not sinned in his or her lifetime. He remarked that no one present had raised a hand and observed that “we are all sinners” and some people find themselves sinning over and over again.
Like a child who reaches up to his parents to lift him after a fall - noted the Pope, when we fall in sin, we can raise our hand to God who will pull us up. “God created man and woman to stand upright,” said the Pope. "It is beautiful to be forgiven," stressed Pope Francis, "but you too, if you want to be pardoned, you should also forgive. Forgive!"
Pope Francis conveyed this message to English speaking pilgrims:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now conclude our treatment of the Old Testament with a consideration of Psalm 51, the Miserere. This Psalm is traditionally seen as King David’s prayer for forgiveness following his sin with Bathsheba. Its opening words: “Have mercy on me, O God in your kindness”, are a moving confession of sin, repentance and confident hope in God’s merciful pardon. Together with a heartfelt plea to be cleansed and purified of his sin, the Psalmist sings the praise of God’s infinite justice and holiness. He asks for the forgiveness of his great sin but also for the gift of a pure heart and a steadfast spirit, so that, thus renewed, he may draw other sinners back to the way of righteousness. God’s forgiveness is the greatest sign of his infinite mercy. Through the prayers of Mary, Mother of Mercy, may we become ever more convincing witnesses to that divine mercy which forgives our sins, creates in us a new heart, and enables us to proclaim God’s reconciling love to the world.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Norway, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States. In the joy of the Risen Lord, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!