The first step in knowing Christ [. . .] is knowing one's own sin, one's own sins. [. . .] With such knowledge, without such inner confession that I am a sinner, we cannot go on.” The second step is to pray to the Lord so that “his power makes us know the mystery of Jesus, which is the fire that He brought upon the Earth."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At this morning’s Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis noted that recognising that we are sinners and praying are necessary steps so as not be "Christians of words". This way, we can actually know Jesus and answer the question "Who is Jesus Christ for you?"
The pontiff took his cue from the Letter to the Ephesians (Eph 3: 14-21), in which Paul says: “rooted and grounded in love, may [you] have strength to comprehend [. . .] what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Here, Saint Paul was eager about passing on what he learnt about Jesus Christ from the experience of falling off a horse when the Lord spoke to his heart. He did not learn about Christ studying theology, even though “he went to see how the Scripture proclaimed" Jesus.
"What Paul felt, he wants us Christians to feel. To the question we can ask Paul, 'Paul, who is Christ for you?', he will say his own, simple experience: 'He loved me and gave himself for me'. But he is involved with Christ who paid for him. Paul wants Christians - in this case the Christians of Ephesus – to have this experience, to enter into this experience to the point that everyone can say: 'He loved me and gave himself for me', but to say so through their personal experience."
To have the experience that Saint Paul had with Jesus, Pope Francis said that reciting the Creed many times helps but the best way is by recognising that we are sinners: it is the first step. In fact, when Paul says that Jesus gave himself for him, he means that he paid for him, which is what he says in his Letters.
The first definition that he gives of himself is, therefore, that of "being a sinner", saying that he has persecuted Christians, and starts from being "chosen through love, though a sinner". [. . .] The first step in knowing Christ, in entering into this mystery, is knowing one's own sin, one's own sins".
In the sacrament of Reconciliation "we say our sins", Francis said, but "it is one thing to tell sins", it is another to recognise oneself as naturally sinners, "capable of doing anything", "recognising filth".
Saint Paul experienced his own wretchedness, "which had to be redeemed", that of someone who willing "to pay for the right to call himself ‘son of God’" [. . .] we are all sinners, but to say it, to feel it, we needed Christ’s sacrifice." This means recognising ourselves as actual sinners, ashamed of ourselves.
The second step to get to know Jesus is that of contemplation, of prayer, of asking to know Jesus. "There is a beautiful prayer, by a saint: ‘Lord, let me know you and know myself.’ Know yourself and knowing Jesus." This is where the relationship of salvation is given, the pope says, urging us "not be happy with saying three, four right words about Jesus" because in act “knowing Jesus is an adventure, a serious adventure, not a child’s adventure" for Jesus’s love is without limits.
"Paul says this himself. 'He has all the power to do much more than we can ask or think. He has the power to do it. But we have to ask for it. Lord, let me know You so that when I speak of you, I will not parrot you, but will say words born from my experience. So that, like Paul, l can say: ‘He loved me and gave himself for me’, and say this with conviction. This is our strength, this is our witness. We have many Christians of words; we too are so many times. This is not holiness. Holiness is to be Christians who work in life what Jesus taught and what Jesus sown in our heart."
Ultimately, the first step to know Jesus Christ means to “know ourselves as sinners, sinners. With such knowledge, without such inner confession that I am a sinner, we cannot go on.”
“The Second step is to pray to the Lord, who with his power makes us know the mystery of Jesus, which is the fire that He brought upon the Earth. It would be a good habit if every day, at some point, we could say: 'Lord, let me know You and know myself'. And so, go on."