04/13/2016, 13.45
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Pope: I am going to Lesbos to be close to refugees. Pray for me

At the General Audience Francis comments on the call of Matthew, a sinner in the eyes of the world: "The Church is not a perfect community, but disciples on a journey, who follow the Lord because they know that they are sinners and in need of his forgiveness. The Christian life then is a school of humility that opens us to grace". Arrogance and pride "is a wall preventing our relationship with God." After the catechesis an appeal: "I will go to Greece to express sympathy and solidarity with, migrants and the Greek people who welcome them so generously."


Vatican City (AsiaNews) -  Pope Francis is going to Lesbos "along with my brothers the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymos”, “to express sympathy and solidarity with refugees and the citizens of Lesbos and all the Greek people who are so generous in their welcome. Accompany me with your prayer”, said the Pope after the general audience, dedicated today to the call of Matthew.

The Pope observed "he was a tax collector and therefore considered a public sinner. But Jesus called him to follow him and become his disciple". This call causes scandal among the Pharisees and disciples, because they believe Christ should not sit with sinners, or call them to be his disciples: "By calling Matthew, Jesus shows sinners that does not look at their past, their social condition or external conventions, but rather he opens a new future for them. I once heard a nice saying: 'There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future'. This is what Jesus does".

The Church, he said “is not a perfect community, but disciples on a journey, who follow the Lord because they know that they are sinners and in need of his forgiveness. The Christian life then is a school of humility that opens us to grace".

This behavior is incomprehensible to those who, with presumption, believe themselves better than others: "Arrogance and pride will not allow them recognize they are in need of salvation, in fact, they are unable to see the merciful face of God and to act with mercy. They have a wall. Arrogance and pride are a wall that prevents their relationship with God. Yet, Jesus’ mission is this: To come looking for each of us to heal our wounds and call us to follow him with love. "

If the Pharisees see only the invited sinners and refuse to sit with them "Jesus, by contrast reminds them that they too are God’s guests. In this way, sitting at the table with Jesus means to be transformed by Him and saved. In the Christian community Jesus’ table  is twofold: there is the table of the Word and there is the table of the Eucharist (cf. Dei Verbum, 21). These are the medicine with which the Divine Physician heals us and feeds us. With the first - the Word - he reveals himself and invites us to a dialogue between friends. Jesus was not afraid to talk to sinners, publicans, prostitutes ... No, he was not afraid; he loved them all! His Word penetrates us, and like a scalpel, operates deep to free us from the evil that lurks in our lives".

Sometimes, Francis continued, "this Word is painful because it intrudes on hypocrisies, unmasks false excuses, exposes the hidden truth; but at the same time illuminates and purifies, it gives strength and hope, it is a precious  tonic on our journey of faith. The Eucharist, in turn, feeds us the very life of Jesus and, as a powerful remedy, in a mysterious way continually renews the grace of our baptism. Approaching the Eucharist we are nourished by the Body and Blood of Jesus, and yet, coming to us, it is Jesus who unites us with his Body".

Closing the dialogue with the Pharisees, Jesus recalls the prophet Hosea: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." Jesus concluded the pope, " also applies this prophetic sentence to human relationships: those Pharisees were very religious in form but were not willing to share the table with publicans and sinners. They did not recognize the possibility of a reformation and thus a healing. They do not put mercy in first place while being faithful custodians of the law, they show the di not know the heart of God! It is as if your parents gave you a package containing a gift and you, instead of going to look for the gift, just look at the paper in which it is wrapped: only appearances, form, and not the fact of the grace, the gift that is given”.

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