By Courtney Grogan
Pope Francis said Sunday that God forgets sins absolved within the confessional.
“How do you defeat evil? Accepting God’s forgiveness … It happens every time we go to confession; there we receive the love of the Father who overcomes our sin. It is no longer there, God forgets it,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus message Sept. 15.
“God, when He forgives, loses His memory. He forgets our sins, forgets. God is so good with us,” he added in a departure from his prepared remarks.
In the sacrament of confession, God completely erases the evil confessed, making one new inside, reborn in joy, Pope Francis explained.
“Brothers and sisters, have courage. With God, no sin has the last word,” the pope said.
Pope Francis reflected upon Sunday’s Gospel from Luke in which the Pharisees complain that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
“Jesus ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ This is what happens to us, in every Mass, in every church: Jesus is happy to welcome us to his table, where he offers Himself for us,” Pope Francis said.
“It is a phrase that we could write on the doors of our churches: ‘Here Jesus welcomes sinners and invites them to his table,’” he added.
The pope focused on the lessons of God’s mercy and justice contained within Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. He said that the elder brother’s rejection of the father’s mercy for the prodigal son contains an important warning.
“The eldest son, who does not accept the mercy of his father … makes a worse mistake: he is presumed to be just and judges everything on the basis of his thought of justice,” he said. “It is also a risk for us: to believe in a more rigorous than merciful God, a God who defeats evil with power rather than forgiveness.”
“We are also wrong when we believe ourselves to be right, when we think that the bad ones are the others. Let us not believe ourselves good because alone, without the help of God who is good, we do not know how to overcome evil,” Pope Francis said.
“Our Lady, who unties the knots of life, frees us from the pretense of believing we are righteous and makes us feel the need to go to the Lord, who is always waiting for us to embrace us, to forgive us,” he said.
After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed his joy because of two beatifications this weekend. Benedetta Bianchi Porro, an Italian laywoman, who died in 1964 of a lifelong illness at the age of 28, was declared blessed on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
At her beatification Sept. 14, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu called Porro a shining example of “what the cross can and must be for us Christians.”
On Sept. 15, Father Richard Henkes will be beatified in Limburg, Germany. Henkes was a Pallottine priest, who died a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau in 1945 while caring for sick prisoners in the camp.
“The example of these two brave disciples of Christ also supports our journey to holiness,” Pope Francis said.
“Don’t be afraid: God loves you, loves you as you are,” the pope said. “Only His love can change your life.”