By Hannah Brockhaus
Vatican City, Nov 12, 2016 / 09:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims about how the mercy of God is for everyone, and how through the Church, we are all called to embrace and include everyone in the Body of Christ.
“The Gospel calls us to recognize in the history of humanity the design of a great work of inclusion, which fully respects the freedom of every person, every community, every people,” the Pope said Nov. 12.
And “calls everyone to form a family of brothers and sisters, in justice, solidarity and peace, and to be part of the Church, which is the body of Christ.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the final special general audience for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The extra audiences have been held once a month in addition to the Pope’s weekly audience for the duration of the Jubilee, which officially ends Nov. 20.
At the audience, the Pope’s catechesis centered on the “universal invitation” found in the words of Jesus in St. Matthew’s Gospel: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“No one is excluded from this call,” he said, “because the mission of Jesus is to reveal to everyone the Father’s love.” It is “up to us to open our hearts, trust in Jesus and accept this message of love, which makes us enter into the mystery of salvation.”
Reflecting on the Body of Christ as it is depicted on the crucifix, the Pope noted how Christ’s arms are “outstretched on the cross” showing that “no one is excluded from his love and his mercy.”
“How true are the words of Jesus who invites those who are tired and weary to come to Him to find rest!” he said.
How many weary and oppressed people we meet every day, in our neighborhood, at our school, at the doctor’s office, Francis continued. It is through our eyes that the gaze of Jesus “rests on each one of those faces.”
Pointing to the colonnades which surround St. Peter’s Square, The Pope explained how even the square was a visible representation of what the Church should be, an expression of Christ’s “embrace.”
Just as God includes and welcomes us through his forgiveness, we “all need to meet brothers and sisters to help us to go to Jesus, to open ourselves to the gift he has given us on the cross.”
“We do not exclude anyone!” he emphasized. “For God, in his plan of love, he does not want to exclude anyone, but wants to include everyone.”
It is through our Baptism that God makes us all his children in Christ and members of his body the Church, the Pope noted, “and we Christians are encouraged to use the same criteria.”
“Mercy is the way you act,” he said, it is the way in which we incorporate our lives with the lives of others, avoiding closing in on ourselves and our own “selfish securities.”
This aspect of mercy is manifested in the open arms of the Church, “open wide to welcome,” not exclude, he continued. The Church does not classify others “according to social status, language, race, culture, religion.”
“In front of us there is only one person to love as God loves.”
Let us all participate in this inclusion, being witnesses of the same mercy with which God “has accepted and welcomed all of us,” he said.
“In fact, with humility and simplicity let’s be instruments of inclusive mercy of the Father.” Just as our Holy Mother Church “prolongs in the world the great embrace of Christ dead and risen.”