Once the younger son came back, the father ran to meet him and embraced him, Francis said, explaining that "so great was the love and joy for having found him again, (the father) didn't even allow him to finish his confession – it's like he covered his mouth."
Then the father called the older son and invited him in to the celebration. Even though the older son is bitter, the father "tries to open his heart to love, because no one is excluded from the feast of mercy," the Pope observed.
Francis noted how this same merciful God is described as being "slow to anger," and is willing to wait patiently, like a wise farmer who waits for his crop, for the seeds of repentance to grow in our hearts.
"God is totally and always reliable. He is a solid and stable presence. This is the certainty of our faith."
Pope Francis closed his address by praying that during the Jubilee of Mercy, all would entrust themselves entirely to the Lord, "and experience the joy of being loved by this God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and great in love and faithfulness."
After greeting pilgrims present from various countries around the world, the Pope offered special prayers for the victims and families of yesterday's suicide bombing near the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
At least 10 people were killed and several injured when a suicide bomber, identified as a Syrian, blew himself up in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district, which is near the Blue Mosque. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In his comments, Pope Francis invited faithful to pray for the victims, and asked that the merciful God "give eternal peace to the deceased, comfort to the families, firm solidarity to society as a whole," and that he "convert the hearts of the violent."
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