"The Church, when it journeys through history, is persecuted by hypocrites: hypocrites within and without. The devil has nothing to do with repentant sinners, because they look upon God and say, “Lord, I am a sinner, help me!” And the devil is impotent".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The devil is strong with the hypocrites, those who have no mercy and are scandalized like the doctors of the law who said: " Now everyone has the right to enter into the church, even the divorced, everyone," said Pope Francis today at Mass in Santa Marta. He was inspired by the passage of the Gospel of Luke (Lk 7: 36-50), in which Jesus says to the "sinner", " her many sins have been forgiven; for she has shown great love "and from the First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15: 1-11).
The Pope described three types of people in the day’s readings: Jesus and his disciples; Paul and the woman whose sins were forgiven; and the doctors of the law.
The woman in the Gospel is described as having “so much love towards Jesus,” while not hiding the fact that she is a sinner. Saint Paul, the Pope said, is similar in recognizing, and handing on to us, that “Christ died for our sins.” Both were seeking God “with love,” but their love was a kind of “half-love.” The Pope explained that when Paul was persecuting the Church, he thought that love was a law and his heart was closed to the revelation of Jesus Christ. He persecuted Christians out of zeal for the law; and this, the Pope said, was a love that was immature. The woman, too, was seeking love, the “little love.” The Pharisees commented on the fact that she was a sinner, but Jesus explains: “This woman was forgiven much because she loved much.” The Pope puts a question in the mouth of the Pharisees: “But how can she love? These people [sinners] do not know how to love.” [But] they seek love. And Jesus, speaking about these people, says – he once said – that they are before us, in the Kingdom of Heaven. “But what a scandal!” – the Pharisees [say] – “But these people!” Jesus looks upon the small gesture of love, the small gesture of good will, and takes it, and carries it forward. This is the mercy of Jesus: He always forgives, He always receives.
With regard to the “doctors of the law,” Pope Francis says that “they have an attitude that only the hypocrites use often: they are scandalized.” And they say: “But look, what a scandal! You can’t live like that! We have lost our values. Now everyone has the right to enter into the church, even the divorced, everyone. But where are we?” The scandal of the hypocrites. This is the dialogue between the great love that forgives all, [the love of] Jesus; [and] the love “by halves” of Paul and of this woman, and also our [love], which is an incomplete love because none of us is a canonized saint. Let’s be honest. It is hypocrisy: the hypocrisy of the “just,” of the “pure,” of those who believe they are saved by their own proper external merits.
Jesus recognizes how these people externally show "all beautiful" - he speaks of "whitewashed sepulchers" - but inside they have "decay" and rot. " And the Church, when it journeys through history, is persecuted by hypocrites: hypocrites within and without. The devil has nothing to do with repentant sinners, because they look upon God and say, “Lord, I am a sinner, help me!” And the devil is impotent; but he is strong with hypocrites. He is strong, and he uses them to destroy, to destroy the people, to destroy society, to destroy the Church. The workhorse of the devil is hypocrisy, because he is a liar. He makes himself out to be a powerful prince, beautiful, and from behind he is an assassin.".
Francis called on those present not to forget that Jesus forgives, receives, uses mercy, a "word so often forgotten when we spread others". The invitation is then to "be merciful, like Jesus, and not to condemn others. Jesus at the center ". In fact, Christ forgives both Paul, "a sinner, persecutor, but with love", and the woman, "a sinner, herself with an incomplete love". Only in this way can they encounter "true love", which is Jesus, while hypocrites "are unable to encounter love because they have a closed heart".