Pope Francis in Malta: God’s endless mercy means no one is ‘irredeemable’.
Floriana, Malta, Apr 3, 2022 / 03:20 am (CNA).
Speaking in front of a crowd of thousands of people, the pope urged Maltese Catholics to be “tireless witnesses” of God’s mercy at an outdoor Mass in the largest public square in the capital, Valletta, on April 3.
Pope Francis underlined that God always forgives and provides a chance for a fresh start to those who approach his mercy.
The pope added that God never tires of forgiving us, but it is we who tire of seeking his mercy.
“This is the Lord Jesus. We truly know him when we experience his forgiveness, and when … we discover that God comes to us through our inner woundedness. That is indeed where the Lord loves to make himself known,” he said.
People gathered in the Granaries in Floriana, a fortified town on the outskirts of Valletta, cheering and waving Vatican flags as Pope Francis entered the square in the popemobile.
The live-streamed Mass was the largest public gathering during the pope’s two-day trip to the Republic of Malta on April 2-3.
About 20,000 people were present in the square and surrounding area for the Mass, according to the Holy See press office.
Before arriving at the square, Pope Francis stopped to change cars and get into the open popemobile in front of the church housing the tomb of St. George Preca. Preca, who was canonized by Benedict XVI in 2007, founded the Society of Christian Doctrine, which trains catechists.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ encounter with a woman caught in adultery recorded in the Gospel of John.
He said that once “we open our hearts” to God in “in truth, he can work wonders in us.”
Pope Francis said: “We see this in the woman caught in adultery. Her situation seemed hopeless, but then a new and unexpected horizon opened up before her. She was insulted and awaiting merciless judgment and severe punishment. Yet to her amazement, she finds herself acquitted by God, who points her to a future she did not at all anticipate: ‘Has no one condemned you?’ — Jesus says to her — ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.’”
“Forgiveness changed that woman’s life,” he added.
More than 85% of Malta’s population of 478,000 people are baptized Catholics, but the country has seen a steady decline in Mass attendance for decades.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the “sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.”
Pope Francis told Maltese Catholics: “The Lord also wants us, his disciples, his Church, likewise forgiven by him, to become tireless witnesses of reconciliation.”
God’s inexhaustible mercy and the importance of Christian witness have both been key themes of the pope’s weekend trip to Malta, which has brought him to a Marian shrine on the island of Gozo and the site where tradition holds that St. Paul stayed after landing on the island in 60 AD.
After the Mass, Pope Francis will meet with migrants at the John XXIII Peace Lab, an immigration reception center in Hal Far, before he departs by plane on Air Malta on Sunday evening during which he will hold an in-flight press conference.