Basing his reflections on an extract from St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, the Pope said our God forgives all our sins, always and without exception and He rejoices when somebody asks him for pardon. This God who reconciles, he continued, choose Jesus to set up a new pact with humanity and the cornerstone of this pact is forgiveness for our sins.
“First of all, God always forgives us. He never tires of this. It’s we who get tired of asking for forgiveness. But HE does not tire of pardoning us. When Peter asked Jesus: ‘How many times must I forgive? Seven times?’ – ‘Not seven times: seventy times by seven.’ Namely always. That’s how God forgives us: always. But if you have lived a life full of so many sins, so many bad things, but in the end, a bit repentant, you ask for forgiveness, He will immediately pardon you! He always forgives us.”
Pope Francis said a doubt can arrive in a person’s heart over how far God is prepared to forgive us. But, he stressed, all you have to do is repent and ask for forgiveness and you don’t have to pay because Christ has already paid on our behalf.
“There is no sin which He won’t pardon. He forgives everything. ‘But father, I don’t go to confession because I have committed so many really bad sins, so many that I can’t be forgiven….’ No, this is not true. He forgives everything. If you go (to confession) repentant, He will forgive everything. When… so many times He doesn’t even let you speak! You start to ask for forgiveness and He lets you feel that joy of forgiveness before you have even finished confessing everything.”
The Pope went on to describe how God rejoices when somebody asks for forgiveness and at the same time He “forgets” or wipes out from his memory our sins. The reason for this, he explained, is because what matters for God is for us to meet with him. Confession is not a judgment but a meeting with God.
“Confessions often seem like a procedure, a formality. Everything is mechanical! No! Where’s the meeting in this? The meeting with the Lord who pardons you, hugs you and rejoices. And this is our God who is so good. We too need to teach (others): teach our children, our youngsters to make a good confession, because going to confession is not like going to the dry cleaners to get a stain removed. No! It’s about going to meet with our Father who reconciles, who forgives us and who rejoices.”