Vatican City, Sep 28, 2016 / 03:34 am
On Wednesday Pope Francis said that Jesus’ salvific mission reaches its culmination on the Cross in his conversation with the two thieves crucified with him, showing that God’s mercy goes beyond the desperation of human suffering, responding to it with mercy and forgiveness.
When the bad thief cries out to Jesus on the Cross, telling him “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us,” this act “bears witness to the anguish of man in front of the mystery of death and the tragic awareness that only God can be the liberating answer,” the Pope said Sept. 28.
As he dies on the Cross alongside two criminals, Jesus confirms God’s salvation “can reach any man in any condition, even the most negative and painful.”
Because of this, Francis said the ongoing Jubilee of Mercy is a time of grace and of mercy “for all, good and evil, those who are healthy and those who suffer. The good and the bad...because the Church is mercy!”
“Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!” he said, and directed his words to all who are “nailed to a hospital bed, who live closed in a prison, to those who are trapped in war,” telling them: “look to the Crucifix; God is with you, he remains with you on the Cross and offers himself to all as the Savior.”
Pope Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly general audience, giving special greetings to the American seminarians in Rome who will be ordained deacons Thursday and their families.
He continued his ongoing catechesis on mercy, telling attendees that when Jesus forgives those nailing him to the Cross, saying “Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do,” his words “culminate in forgiveness...Jesus forgives.”
When confronted with the opposite attitudes of the two thieves he is crucified with, Jesus hears the first one insult him, the Pope said, but explained that this offense was “driven by desperation” caused by suffering.