However, he warned that certain obstacles frequently get in the way, such as the temptation to lock the doors of our heart, to give into feelings of shame, and to distance ourselves from the door by wallowing in our own misery.
Francis then addressed the Missionaries of Mercy directly, telling them that their mandate is to be a sign and instrument of God's forgiveness.
He prayed that they would help people to open the doors of their hearts, to overcome shame and encourage them not to run from the light offered by God.
"May your hands bless and lift brothers and sisters with paternity; that through you the gaze and the hands of the Father will rest on his children and heal their wounds!" he prayed.
A second "invitation" the Pope highlighted was the Prophet Joel's instruction to "Return to me with all your heart" in the day's first reading.
The reason we need to return, he said, is "because we have distanced ourselves. It's the mystery of sin: we have distanced ourselves from God, from others, from ourselves."
It's easy to see this if we stop to think about how we struggle to really trust in God without fear, how hard is for us to love others without thinking badly about them, and how easily we are "seduced" by material things that leave us poor in the end, Pope Francis said.
However, he noted that alongside this story of sin, "Jesus opened a history of salvation."
Turning to the day's Gospel reading from Matthew, the Pope said it invites us to become "protagonists" in our own conversion by embracing the "three remedies, three medicines," of prayer, charity and fasting and penance, "which heal from sin."
Pope Francis concluded his homily by emphasizing that returning to God with one's entire heart is not something external, but instead comes "from the depth of ourselves."
"Jesus calls us to live prayer, charity and penance with coherence and authenticity, overcoming hypocrisy," he said, and prayed that the entire Church would walk together on the Lenten path, receiving the ashes and keeping their gazed "fixed on the Crucified."
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"He, loving us, invites us to be reconciled with God and to return to him, in order to return to ourselves," Francis said.