Pope Francis has dedicated today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square to the Jubilee topic of mercy, a value that is intrinsically connected to justice. Because – he says – “the mercy of God accomplishes true justice.” But what kind of justice does Jesus talk about? Not “human justice” from the “Proverbs” because “it is retributive justice that imposes punishment on the guilty, according to the principle that everyone must receive what (s)he deserves.” This path, however, cannot lead to true justice yet because “it does not overcome evil, but simply stems it. Whereas evil can be defeated only if we answer with good.”
Another way to do justice mentioned in the Bible is skipping the court and address the offender directly, making him understand the evil he has committed, thus persuading him to repent and convert without using force, but only words. “This is the way to resolve conflicts inside the families – Bergoglio says -, relationships between spouses or between parents and children, where the injured loves the guilty and wants to save the relationship that binds them”.
This path, the Pope acknowledges, is “difficult” because it asks from those who have suffered wrong to be ready to forgive and desire the salvation and the good of those who have offended. This is where mercy becomes forgiveness: “that is the only way justice can prevail, because if the offender recognizes the harm he has done and stops it, evil vanishes and the one who was unjust becomes just.”
This is how God acts towards sinners: “The Lord always gives us his forgiveness… because God does not want our condemnation, but our salvation.” He also added: “God does not want anyone’s, anyone’s condemnation! Some of you will probably want to ask me: ‘But Father, Pilate deserved his sentence? God wanted it?’-‘ No! God wanted to save both Pilate and Judas, everyone! He is the Lord of mercy who wants to save everyone!'”.
The heart of the Father goes beyond “our little concept of justice” to open the boundless horizons of His mercy to us, but man’s ancestral problem is letting Him enter our hearts. The confessional is the privileged place of encounter with God’s mercy and his justice. Greeting the pilgrims of other languages, the Pope summarized his catechesis as follows: “God’s justice is His forgiveness”. We must “open our hearts to the experience of the infinite mercy of God, who never gets tired of forgiving, so we can seek reconciliation with all those around us, starting from our family.”
Then, the Pope has greeted and thanked the American Circus artists who performed in St. Peter’s Square, the faithful pilgrims in the square including the makers of the crib in Trento, the young, the sick and newlyweds: “Today we remember San Biagio, Armenian martyr. This holy bishop reminds us on the commitment to proclaim the Gospel even in difficult conditions. Dear young people, become courageous witnesses of your faith; Dear sick people, offer up your daily cross for the conversion of those distant from the light of Christ; and you, dear newlyweds, be the heralds of His love, beginning with your family.”