By Elise Harris
-- Pope Francis said that confessing our sins isn't a “mechanical” procedure like getting a stained removed but rather a joyful embrace from God, who forgives everything from a heart that's repentant.
“There is no sin which (God) won’t pardon. He forgives everything…If you go (to confession) repentant, he will forgive everything,” Pope Francis told those gathered in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his Jan. 23 daily Mass.
Pope Francis centered his homily on the day's first reading from St. Paul to the Hebrews where the apostle says that the new covenant enacted by Jesus is better than the old covenants, and that the previous ones will “vanish away.”
In the reading St. Paul also speaks of God’s mercy, saying that God “will be merciful” toward his people’s injustices, and will “remember their sins no more.”
God always forgives every sin without exception whenever someone asks for pardon, the Pope explained, noting that Jesus came in order to make a pact with humanity, and the foundation of this pact is the forgiveness of our sins.
“God always forgives us. He never tires of this. It’s we who get tired of asking for forgiveness, but HE does not tire of pardoning us,” Pope Francis said.
He recalled how when Peter in the Gospel asks Jesus how often we should forgive others, Jesus responds by saying “Not seven times: seventy times by seven,” or, “Namely always.”
This is how God forgives, Pope Francis noted, saying that even if a person has lived their entire life committing many sins and terrible acts, if they repentantly ask for forgiveness the Lord will “immediately” pardon them.
The Pope observed how doubts can often arise in a person’s heart as to how far and how much God is willing to forgive. However, he said that we don’t have to worry because Christ has already paid the price of sin on our behalf.
Although there are many who might say “I don’t go to confession because I have committed so many really bad sins, so many that I can’t be pardoned,” the pontiff stressed that “No, this is not true. (God) forgives everything.”
Often times God doesn’t even let us finish speaking, the Pope said, noting that as soon as we begin to ask for pardon, “He lets you feel that joy of forgiveness before you have even finished confessing.”
Pope Francis then said that God rejoices whenever a person asks for forgiveness, and erases our sins from his memory.
God does this, the Pope said, because what is important for him is that we encounter him, because going to confession is not a judgment, but rather a meeting point with God.
“Confessions often seem like a procedure, a formality. Everything is mechanical! No! Where’s the meeting in this?” the Pope asked, noting that confession is instead an encounter with the Lord who “pardons you, hugs you and rejoices.”
He concluded his homily by encouraging those present to teach others, especially their children and the youth, how to make a good confession.
To go to confession “is not like going to the dry cleaners to get a stain removed,” the Pope said. “No! It’s about going to meet with our Father who pardons us, who forgives us and who rejoices.”