VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians must look to their own sins and failings and not fall into the temptation of hypocrisy that causes them to believe they are better than others, Pope Francis said.
“The relationship of salvation” with God cannot move forward if people justify themselves and look at the mistakes of others instead of fixing their gaze on the Lord, he said at his weekly general audience April 20.
(See a related video.)
“This is the line of salvation, the relationship between me — the sinner, and the Lord,” he told tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The pope reflected on one aspect of mercy exemplified in Jesus’ encounter with a woman who was considered sinful. While Jesus dined with one of the Pharisees, she entered the house weeping, bathed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
“Her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little,” Jesus said.
Although the Pharisee questions Jesus’ reason for allowing himself to be “contaminated” by the woman “as if she were a leper,” the pope said Jesus’ reaction is a lesson on how to “distinguish between the sin and the sinner.”
“With sin there is no need to compromise, while sinners — meaning all of us — we are like sick people who are being cured and in order to be cured, we need the doctor to come close, to visit us, to touch us. And naturally the sick person, in order to be healed, must recognize the need for a doctor,” he said.
By allowing himself to be free of prejudice “that impedes mercy from expressing itself,” he added, Jesus puts an end to the isolation caused by the hypocrisy of “ruthless judgments.”
Pope Francis said the encounter between Jesus and the woman teaches “us the link between faith, love and gratitude.”
“Let us allow Christ’s love to be poured in us. A disciple draws from and is rooted in this love. From this love, everyone can be nourished and fed. In this way, through the grateful love we pour out to our brothers and sisters, in our homes and in society, the Lord’s mercy can be communicated,” he said.
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