Symbolically calling on the entire global Roman Catholic church to take up his papacy’s central message of compassion and pardon, Pope Francis on Friday announced that he is convoking a jubilee year to be called the Holy Year of Mercy.
In his homily at the penitential service Friday, Francis gave another wide-ranging reflection on the role of mercy and pardon in church teaching.
Recounting the Gospel reading of the day — in which a woman described as sinful washes Jesus with her hair and tears — Francis said, “Every gesture of this woman speaks of love and expresses her desire to have an unshakeable certainty in her life: that of being forgiven.”
“And Jesus gives this certainty, welcoming her and demonstrating to her the love of God for her, truly for her,” the pope said.
Continuing the story to talk about Simon, the Pharisee who owned the house, Francis said he was a “lord” who “cannot find the path of love.”
For him, the pope said, “all is calculated, all [is] thought. He stands at the threshold of formality.”
“It is an ugly thing, formal love,” Francis continued. “It cannot be understood.”
“The call of Jesus pushes each of us to never stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person,” the pope said later. “We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see of how much generosity everyone is capable.
“No one can be excluded from the mercy of God,” Francis continued, repeating: “No one can be excluded from the mercy of God!”
“The church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one,” the pope said. “Its doors remain wide open, so that those touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness.”
“Better must be the love of the church expressed toward those who convert,” he said.
related reading: Pope Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy could be a truly great jubilee