VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God’s love and the salvation offered in Jesus cannot be understood using intelligence alone and, in fact, trying to make it all reasonable can make one crazy, Pope Francis said.

“When intelligence tries to explain a mystery, it always — always — becomes crazy,” the pope said Oct. 22 in the homily at his early morning Mass.

The mystery of salvation “can only be understood on one’s knees, in contemplation,” he said, according to a report by Vatican Radio. To enter into a mystery one needs “intelligence, heart, knees, prayer — all together.”

Another key to understanding the mystery of salvation, he said, is to recognize how near God is to each of his creatures and how hands-on he is.

“For me, what comes to mind is a nurse in a hospital: She treats the patient’s wounds one by one, but with her own hands,” the pope said. “God gets involved, he enters our misery, he draws near to our wounds and he heals them with his hands.”

In fact, the pope said, it was to have hands and be able to touch people that Christ became human and lived on earth, suffering and dying before rising from the dead.

Saving people, the pope said, “is Jesus’ personal job. A man sinned and a man came to heal him.”

“God does not save us by decree,” Pope Francis said. “He saves us with tenderness, he saves us with caresses, he saves us with his life given for us.”

Another aspect of the mystery of salvation to contemplate, he said, is the fact that where sin abounds, God’s grace, tenderness and mercy are super-abundant.

Pope Francis said anyone who is honest recognizes that all people sin, but “God’s challenge is to overcome this, to heal the wounds.”

“Some might not like me to say this, but sinners are those who are closest to the heart of Jesus because he goes out to find them and calls to all of them, ‘Come, come!’ And when he was asked to explain” why he spent so much time with sinners, “he said, ‘Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor; I came to heal, to save.'”

In the end, the pope said, God vanquishes sin “with the super-abundance of his grace, his tenderness” and “with the richness of his mercy.”