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Pope Francis: It’s never ‘too late’ to receive God’s love

Pope Francis greets the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Angelus address on Sept. 24, 2023. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2023 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that regardless of one’s stage of life, it is never too late to receive God’s love.

Speaking in his Angelus address on Sept. 24, the pope said that God is seeking us out at every hour of the day and that his “big-hearted” love for us is not based on our merits.

“This is how God is: He does not wait for our efforts to come to us,” Francis said. “He does not give up if we are late in responding to Him. On the contrary, He Himself has taken the initiative and through Jesus came to us to show us His love.”

“And He seeks us at all hours of the day, which, as Saint Gregory the Great states, represent the different stages and seasons of our life up to old age (cf. Homilies on the Gospel, 19).”

“For His heart, it is never too late; He is always looking for us and waiting for us.”

The pope spoke from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square one day after he gave a strong condemnation of euthanasia on his return flight from Marseille in southern France, saying there is such a thing as “bad compassion.”

Pope Francis greets the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square from the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace for his Angelus address on Sept. 24, 2023. Vatican Media

Pope Francis spent two days in the French city, where he spoke at a meeting of young people and bishops called Mediterranean Encounter with a message that the deepening migrant crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean is “a reality of our times” that calls for wisdom and a collaborative response from European nations.

“Dear brothers and sisters, today we celebrate World Migrant and Refugee Day, under the theme ‘free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,” as a reminder that migrating should be a free choice and never the only one possible,” he said on Sunday.

Reflecting on his trip to France, Pope Francis said that the challenge of creating communities that can welcome and integrate migrants was “at the heart” of the Mediterranean Encounter event.

“It is necessary that every man and every woman be guaranteed the opportunity to live a dignified life, in the society in which they find themselves. Unfortunately, misery, wars, and climate crisis force so many people to flee,” he said.

“Therefore, we are all called to create communities ready and open to welcome, promote, accompany, and integrate those who knock on our doors.”

Pope Francis also offered thanks to the Italian bishops’ conference for their efforts to assist migrants in Italy.

Waves from the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the pope’s Angelus address on Sept. 24, 2023. Vatican Media

In his Angelus message, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ parable in the Gospel of Matthew about a landowner who gives all of his laborers the full daily wage, even those who were employed late in the day and worked only one hour.

The pope noted that the “ultimate meaning of the parable” is that of “God’s superior justice.”

“Human justice says to ‘give to each his own according to what he deserves,’ while God’s justice does not measure love on the scales of our returns, our performance, or our failures: God just loves us, He loves us because we are his children, and He does so with an unconditional and gratuitous love,” Pope Francis said.

“Brothers and sisters, sometimes we risk having a ‘mercantile’ relationship with God, focusing more on our own skill than on the generosity of his grace,” he said. “Sometimes even in the Church, instead of going out at all hours of the day and extending our arms to all, we can feel like the first in our class, judging others far away, without thinking that God loves them too with the same love He has for us.”

After praying the Angelus prayer in Latin with the crowd, Pope Francis extended an invitation to all to attend an ecumenical prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday, Sept. 30 to pray for the upcoming Synod on Synodality assembly.

“May Our Lady help us to convert to God’s measure: that of a love without measure,” he said.

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