VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - Delivering his weekly Angelus address in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis said that while everyone feels shame before going to Confession, this grace helps us to be open to God's forgiveness.
"There are people who are afraid of approaching Confession, forgetting that there, we do not encounter severe judgement, but the immensely merciful Father," the Roman Pontiff said Aug. 2, speaking to the crowds who had braved the hot Roman sun.
"It is true that when we go to Confession, we feel a little shameful. This happens to all, to all of us, but we must remember that even this shame is a grace which prepares us for the embrace of the Father, who always forgives and always forgives everyone."
Speaking after leading the recitation of the Angelus prayer, the Pope noted that today is, in the Franciscan tradition, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Porziuncola and its associated indulgence; he used the occasion to remind the faithful of the importance of Confession.
The feast marks the dedication of the Porziuncola or "little portion," a small parish church which is one of those St. Francis of Assisi rebuilt in obedience to Christ's command to "rebuild my church."
"It is a powerful reminder to bring ourselves closer to the Lord in the Sacrament of Mercy, and to receive Communion," Pope Francis said.
Before leading the faithful in the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke on the day's Gospel according to St. John, centering his reflection on the importance of finding lasting sustenance in Christ as the "Bread of Life."
The Roman Pontiff recounted the Gospel passage, which takes place shortly after Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes, who then continued to follow him.
Those who followed Christ after having received "material bread," he said, "did not understand that this bread, broken for many, for many, was an expression of the love of Jesus himself. They gave more value to that bread than to the giver."
In order to get past this "spiritual blindness," he continued, Christ calls the people to discover and understand the one who gives the bread.
"God is the gift, and also the giver."
It is "from this bread, this act" that the people are able to discover God, who gives the bread, Pope Francis said.
Christ invites us to be open to another perspective, not solely based on concerns about food, clothing, success, or career, the Roman Pontiff added. Rather: "Jesus speaks of another food; he speaks of a food that is not corruptible, and which is good to seek and receive."
The Pope cited the Gospel reading, in which Christ exhorts us not to "labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life."
In other words, the Roman Pontiff said: "Seek salvation, the encounter with God."
Pope Francis said Christ's words are to help us understand that while we all experience the need to satiate our physical hunger, the "hunger for life" and eternity are more important, and cannot be fulfilled with ordinary food.
Christ's words do not take away our concerns when it comes to our "daily bread," the Pope said, but they invite us to consider how our lives are directed toward eternity.
"Jesus reminds us that the true meaning of our earthly existence is that human history, with its sufferings and joys, must be seen on the horizon of eternity, that is, in the horizon of the definitive encounter with him."
"And this encounter illumines all the days of our life," the Roman Pontiff said.
Making reference to the Eucharist, Pope Francis added, Christ says he is the Bread of Life, the "greatest gift which satiates the soul and the body."
Not only does this Bread of Life give us meaning in hope amid life's often "tortuous" journey, but in the task of announcing the Gospel to our brothers and sisters so that their "spiritual and material hunger" may be satisfied.
Pope Francis concluded his address by asking Mary for help in following her son, the True Bread which "does not corrupt, and endures for eternal life."