VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Even a demon can recognize that Jesus is Lord; the recognition becomes a profession of faith when one also can admit, “I am a sinner” and confess specific sins, Pope Francis said.
Celebrating a morning Mass in the chapel of his residence Sept. 3, the pope focused on the day’s Gospel (Lk 5:1-11) and its description of Peter’s profession of faith after a miraculous catch of fish.
But first Pope Francis told the small congregation in the Domus Sanctae Marthae how he imagines the daily life of Jesus: “I like to think that Jesus spent most of his time on the street, with the people, and then late in the evening would go off alone to pray.”
In the day’s Gospel, he said, astonishment and humility are the key marks of faith.
The Gospel says, Peter “fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man,’” and it also says, “astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him.”
In the New Testament, the pope said, even the demons recognized that Jesus was Lord, but like the Pharisees, “they did not have the capacity for astonishment, they were closed in their self-sufficiency, their pride.”
On the other hand, he said, “Peter recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah, but he also confesses to being a sinner.”
The demons get as far as speaking the truth about Jesus, the pope said, “but about themselves they say nothing. They can’t. Their pride is so great that it prevents them from saying it.”
And the Pharisees talk about Jesus being intelligent, a great preacher and even a miracle worker. “But they don’t say, ‘We are proud, we are not self-sufficient, we are sinners,’” the pope said.
“The inability to recognize ourselves as sinners distances us from a true confession (of faith) in Jesus Christ. This is what makes the difference,” he said.
“In our parishes, our societies, even among consecrated persons, how many people are able to say that Jesus is Lord? Many!” Pope Francis said. “But it is difficult to say sincerely, ‘I am a sinful man, I am a sinful woman.’”
“It’s much easier to say it about someone else, isn’t it,” the pope asked.
For “a true encounter with Jesus,” he said, a person must be able both to recognize Jesus as Lord and to recognize oneself as a sinner, “not just in theory,” but to admit to concrete sins like “this, this, this and this.”