Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Granaries in Floriana, Malta, April 3, 2022. | Vatican Media.
Pope Francis said in Malta today that the word “irredeemable” does not exist for God, whose mercy is inexhaustible.
Speaking in front of a crowd of thousands of people, the pope urged Maltese Catholics to be “tireless witnesses” of God’s mercy at an outdoor Mass in the largest public square in the capital, Valletta, on April 3.
Pope Francis underlined that God always forgives and provides a chance for a fresh start to those who approach his mercy.
“There is no sin or failure that we can bring before him that cannot become the opportunity for starting to live a new and different life under the banner of mercy,” Pope Francis said in his homily.
The pope added that God never tires of forgiving us, but it is we who tire of seeking his mercy.
“This is the Lord Jesus. We truly know him when we experience his forgiveness, and when … we discover that God comes to us through our inner woundedness. That is indeed where the Lord loves to make himself known,” he said.
People gathered in the Granaries in Floriana, a fortified town on the outskirts of Valletta, cheering and waving Vatican flags as Pope Francis entered the square in the popemobile.
About 20,000 people were present in the square and surrounding area for the Mass, according to the Holy See press office.
Before arriving at the square, Pope Francis stopped to change cars and get into the open popemobile in front of the church housing the tomb of St. George Preca. Preca, who was canonized by Benedict XVI in 2007, founded the Society of Christian Doctrine, which trains catechists.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ encounter with a woman caught in adultery recorded in the Gospel of John.
He explained that once “we open our hearts” to God “in truth, he can work wonders in us.”
Pope Francis said: “We see this in the woman caught in adultery. Her situation seemed hopeless, but then a new and unexpected horizon opened up before her. She was insulted and awaiting merciless judgment and severe punishment. Yet to her amazement, she finds herself acquitted by God, who points her to a future she did not at all anticipate: ‘Has no one condemned you?’ — Jesus says to her — ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.’”
“Forgiveness changed that woman’s life,” he added.
More than 85% of Malta’s population of 478,000 people are baptized Catholics, but the country has seen a steady decline in Mass attendance for decades.
The Catholic Church enables its members to seek God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which a person confesses their sins to a priest and receives absolution.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the “sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.”
God’s inexhaustible mercy and the importance of Christian witness have both been key themes of the pope’s weekend trip to Malta, which has brought him to a Marian shrine on the island of Gozo and the site where tradition holds that St. Paul stayed after landing on the island in 60 AD.
After the Mass, Pope Francis will meet with migrants at the John XXIII Peace Lab, an immigration reception centre in Hal Far, before he departs by plane on Air Malta on Sunday evening. He is expected to hold a press conference during the flight.