Pope at Santa Marta: The courage to admit we are sinners
(Vatican Radio) Having the courage to acknowledge that we are sinners enables us to receive Christ’s caress, His forgiveness, said Pope Francis Thursday morning during Mass at Santa Marta.
The day’s liturgy presents the Gospel of the sinful woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and anoints them with perfume drying them with her hair. Jesus is invited to the house of a Pharisee, “a person of a certain level of culture” – the Pope said – who “wanted to listen to Jesus”, hear his doctrine, find out more. In his own mind, he judges both Jesus and the sinful woman, thinking if Jesus “truly were a prophet he would know want kind of woman is touching him”. The Pharisee “is not a bad man” he simply “cannot understand the woman’s actions”.
“He cannot understand the simple gesture: the simple gestures of the people. Perhaps this man had forgotten how to caress a baby, how to console a grandmother. In his theories, his thoughts, his life of government – because perhaps he was a councilor of the Pharisees – he had forgotten the simple gestures of life, the very first things that we all, as newborns, received from our parents“.
Pope Francis said that Jesus rebukes the Pharisee “with humility and tenderness”, “his patience, his love, the desire to save everyone” leads him to explain the woman’s gesture to the Pharisee, and at the same time point to the Pharisee’s own lack of courtesy. And amid the shocked murmuring of the crowd, he says to the woman: “Your sins are forgiven”. “Go in peace, your faith has saved you!”
“He only says the word salvation – ‘Your faith has saved you’ – to the woman, who is a sinner. And he says it because she was able to weep for her sins, to confess her sins, to say ‘I am a sinner’, and admit it to herself. He doesn’t say the same to those people, who were not bad people: they simply did not believe themselves to be sinners. Other people were sinners: the tax collectors, prostitutes … These were the sinners. Jesus says this word – ‘You are saved, you are safe – only to those who open their hearts and acknowledge that they are sinners. Salvation only enters our hearts when we open them to the truth of our sins“.
“The privileged place to encounter Jesus Christ is in our sins”. Pope Francis observed that this may seem like “heresy” but St. Paul also said as much when he said he would boast of only two things: his sins and the Risen Christ who saved him.
“This is why the ability to acknowledge our own sins, to acknowledge our misery, to acknowledge what we are and what we are capable of doing or have done is the very door that opens us to the Lord’s caress, His forgiveness, to His Word ‘Go in peace, your faith has saved you!’, because you were brave, you were brave enough to open your heart to the only One who can save you“.
Jesus said to the hypocrites, ” Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you”. These are strong words – concluded the Pope – because those who feel themselves sinners “open their hearts in the confession of their sins, to encounter Jesus, who gave His blood for us all”.