With Arms Outstretched

Author: Pope Francis

With Arms Outstretched

Pope Francis

At the last Saturday Jubilee Audience

On Saturday morning, 12 November [2016], in Saint Peter's Square, on the occasion of the last Jubilee Audience for the Holy Year of Mercy, the Holy Father spoke about the link between mercy and inclusion. He also spoke about God's design of love, from which he does not want to exclude anyone. The following is a translation of the reflection which the Pope gave in Italian.

Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!

In this last Saturday Jubilee Audience, I would like to present an important aspect of mercy: inclusion. Indeed, God, in his design of love, does not want to exclude anyone, but wants to include everyone. For example, through Baptism, he makes us his children in Christ, members of his Body which is the Church. And we Christians are invited to use the same criteria: mercy is the way one acts, that style, with which we try to include others in our lives, and avoid closing in on ourselves and our selfish securities.

In the passage from the Gospel of Matthew that we have just heard, Jesus addresses a truly universal invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (11:28). No one is excluded from this call, because Jesus’ mission is to reveal the Father’s love to everyone. Our task is to open our hearts, to trust in Jesus and accept this message of love, which makes us enter into the mystery of salvation.

This aspect of mercy, inclusion, is manifested in opening one’s arms wide to welcome, without excluding; without labeling others according to their social status, language, race, culture or religion: there is, before us, only a person to be loved as God loves them. The person whom I find at my work, in my neighbourhood, is a person to love, as God loves. “But he is from that country, or that other country, or of this religion, or another... He is a person whom God loves and I have to love him”. This is to include, and this is inclusion.

We encounter so many weary and oppressed people today! In the street, in public offices, in medical practices... Jesus’ gaze rests on each one of those faces, even through our eyes. And how is our heart? Is it merciful? And our way of thinking and acting, is it inclusive? The Gospel calls us to recognize, in the history of humanity, the design of a great work of inclusion, which fully respects the freedom of every person, every community, every nation, and calls everyone to form a family of brothers and sisters, in justice, solidarity and peace, and to be part of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

How true are Jesus’ words, which invite those who are tired and weary to come to Him to find rest! His arms outstretched on the cross show that no one is excluded from his love and his mercy, not even the greatest sinner: no one! We are all included in his love and in his mercy. The most immediate expression with which we feel welcomed and included in him is that of forgiveness. We all need to be forgiven by God. And we all need to encounter brothers and sisters who help us to go to Jesus, to open ourselves to the gift he has given us on the cross. Let us not hinder each other! Let us not exclude anyone! Rather, with humility and simplicity let us become instruments of the Father’s inclusive mercy. The inclusive mercy of the Father: it is like this. The Holy Mother Church prolongs in the world the great embrace of Christ who died and rose. Also this Square, with its colonnade, expresses this embrace. Let us engage in this movement of including others, to be witnesses of the mercy with which God has accepted and welcomed each one of us.

L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
18 November 2016, page 6

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