VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus, with his gift of mercy, is the source of salvation, not surefire, clear-cut rules and commandments made by people, Pope Francis said.

God’s only wish is to save humanity, but the problem is people often want to decide the rules for salvation themselves, the pope said in a morning homily Oct. 3, reported by Vatican Radio.

Jesus, just like the prophets before him, faced resistance by the people and even death because their message “ended up being inconvenient” or uncomfortable, he said.


“It is the tragedy of resistance to being saved,” the pope said during an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“The ones who close the door to the way God wants to save us are the leaders” or elite in a community, he said.

That is why Jesus uses such strong words against the leaders of his day, who “argue, put him to the test, they set traps for him to see if he falls because it’s a resistance to being saved” by God, while wanting to define salvation their own way, he said.

“They don’t believe in mercy and in forgiveness; they believe in sacrifice.” Salvation for them is “reduced to fulfilling 613 commandments created in their intellectual and theological frenzy.”

“They believe in having everything in its place, all organized, everything clear,” the pope said.

And, he said, this tendency still exists today, which should prompt people to ask themselves, “How do I want to be saved? My way?” which may involve buying into a spirituality that “is good, it’s good for me, but it’s set in stone, it’s all clear and there are no risks.”

Or do people choose what God offers, “the divine way, that is, along the path of Jesus who always surprises us, who always opens the door for us to that mystery of God’s omnipotence that is mercy and forgiveness?”

The pope urged people to reflect on how “this ordeal is in our heart” and how easy it is to confuse “freedom with autonomy” and to end up choosing their own idea of salvation.

“Do I believe that Jesus is the master who teaches us salvation,” the pope said, “or do I go all over the place to rent a guru who teaches me another kind?”

People might choose to “seek refuge under a shelter of rules and many commandments made by people,” and try to take a journey that’s “more secure,” he said. But with this “security, I buy my salvation, which Jesus gives freely.”