Pope at Santa Marta: God goes to the limit so no one should be lost
(Vatican Radio) The true Christian is not afraid to get his hands dirty by reaching out to sinners, even at the risk of losing his reputation, because as the parable of the Good Shepherd teaches us, no one should be lost, said Pope Francis at Mass on Thursday morning.
Emer McCarthy reports, Listen:
Pope Francis based his homily on the two parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. The Pharisees and scribes were scandalized because Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them”. “It was quite a scandal at the time, for these people,” observed the Pope. “Just imagine if there had been press at that time!”. “But Jesus came for this very reason: to look for those who had strayed from the Lord”. These two parables – he said – “allow us to see what the heart of God is like. God does not stop, God does not go up to a certain point, God goes all the way, to the very limit, He always goes to the limit; He does not stop at the half way point on the journey of Salvation, as if to say ‘I did all I could, it’s their problem. He always goes, moves out, takes to the field”.
The Pharisees and the scribes, however, stop “half-way. They were only concerned about balancing their profits and losses and were quite content with this. ‘Yes, it’s true, I’ve lost three coins, I lost ten sheep, but I earned a lot more”. This does not even enter God’s mind, God is not a moneymaker, God is a Father and He goes to the very end to save us, to the limit. This is God’s love. Half-way shepherds are so sad”.
“It is sad to see a shepherd open the doors of the church and just stand there waiting. It’s sad that the Christian does not feel within, in his heart, the need, the need to go to tell others that the Lord is good. How much perversion there is in the hearts of those who think they are righteous, like these scribes, these Pharisees. Well, they do not want to dirty their hands with sinners. Let us recall what they thought, ‘Well, if he were a prophet, he would know that she is a sinner’. The contempt. They used people, then they despised them”.
“Being a half-way shepherd – Pope Francis said – is a defeat”. “A shepherd must have the heart of God, go to the very limit” because he does not want anyone to be lost:
“The true shepherd, the true Christian has this zeal within: no one should be lost. And this is why they are not afraid to get his hands dirty. He is not afraid. He goes where he needs to go. He risks his life, he risks his reputation, he risks losing his comforts, his status, even lose his ecclesiastical career as well, but he is the Good Shepherd. Even Christians have to be this way. It is so easy to condemn others, as they [the Pharisees] did – the tax collectors and sinners – it’s so easy, but it is not Christian! It is not [the attitude of] the children of God. The Son of God goes to the very limit, the giver of life, as Jesus gave his for others. He cannot be content, keeping to himself: his comfort, his reputation, his peace of mind. Remember this: no half-way shepherds, never! No half-way Christians, never! That’s what Jesus did”.
“The good shepherd, the good Christian – said the Pope – is outward bound, is always outward bound: he is moves out of himself, he moves toward God in prayer, in worship; he moves out towards others to bring them the message of salvation”. The good shepherd and the good Christian know what tenderness is:
“These scribes, the Pharisees did not know, did not know what it means to set the sheep on his shoulders, with tenderness, and bring it back to its place. These people do not know what joy is. The half-way Christian and shepherd knows perhaps know some fun, calm, a certain peace, but joy, the joy there is in heaven, the joy that comes from God, the joy that comes from the heart of a father who saves! ‘I have heard the cries of the Israelites and I took to the field’! This is so beautiful; do not be afraid that they badmouth us because we go to visit our brothers and sisters who are distant from the Lord. Let us ask this grace for each of us and for our Mother, the Holy Church. “