09/07/2016, 12.12
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Pope: God is not a "psychological refuge" and Jesus is not an "ethics teacher"

Saying no to a "DIY faith" which distorts the image of God,  was the focus of Pope Francis catechesis at the General Audience today on the theme of mercy "that saves."


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - God is not an "idol" useful "in justifying our own interests or even hatred and violence" nor "a psychological refuge for reassurance in difficult times" and Jesus is not "one the many "masters of ethics, but "the Father's real instrument of mercy" who "did not send his son to punish sinners or annihilate the wicked", but to invite them to conversion. Saying no to a "DIY faith" which distorts the image of God,  was the focus of Pope Francis catechesis at the General Audience today on the theme of mercy "that saves".

Francis spoke to an estimated 30 thousand people present in St Peter's Square about the passage from Matthew's Gospel in which "the intention of the evangelist is to make us enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus, to seize his goodness and mercy. The episode is: John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus - John was in prison - to ask him a very clear question: 'Are you he who is to come or should we expect someone else?'. It was exactly in this moment of darkness  ... The Baptist anxiously awaited the Messiah and in his preaching had described him in strong colors, like a judge who finally would inaugurate the kingdom of God and cleanse his people, rewarding the good and punishing the bad. He preached thus: 'Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire '. Now Jesus began his public ministry with a different style; John suffers and in a redoubled darkness - in the dark of prison, in the darkness of the cell, and in the darkness of his heart, that does not understand this style and wants to know whether he is the Messiah, or if he must wait for another".

"And Jesus' resonse at a first glance does not does to correspond to the Baptist's request. In fact, Jesus says: 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed. And blessed is he who does not find me a cause of scandal! '. This is what Jesus answers. Here the intent of the Lord Jesus becomes clear: He replies that he is the real instrument of the Father's mercy, that he reaches out to everyone bringing consolation and salvation, and in this way manifests God's judgment. The blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, regain their dignity and are not excluded because of their disease, the dead return to life, while the poor have the good news. And this bcomes the summary of Jesus' way of acting which makes visible and tangible God's actions".

"The justice that the Baptist placed at the center of his preaching, is manifested in Jesus primarily as a mercy. And the doubts of the Precursor merely anticipate the scandal that Jesus will arouse later with his actions and his words. Thus, the conclusion of Jesus' response is understandable . He says: 'Blessed is he who does not find me a cause of scandal!'. Scandal means 'obstacle'. Jesus therefore warns of a particular danger: if his acts of mercy are above all an obstacle to believing, this means that you have a false image of the Messiah. But blessed are those who, faced with the gestures and words of Jesus, glorify the Father who is in heaven".

"The warning of Jesus is always present: Still today, man constructs images of God that prevent him from enjoying His real presence. Some carve out a 'DIY faith' that reduces God to the limited space of their own desires and their own beliefs. But this faith is not conversion to the Lord who is revealed, in fact, it prevents him from provoking our life and our consciousness. Others reduce God to a false idol; they use his holy name to justify their own interests or even hatred and violence. While for others still, God is just a psychological refuge for reassurance in difficult times: it is a faith turned in on itself, impervious to the power of the merciful love of Jesus which pushes us towards our brothers and sisters. Others still consider Christ only a good master of ethics, one among many in history. Finally, there are those who stifle faith in a purely intimate relationship with Jesus, canceling his missionary thrust capable of transforming the world and history. We Christians believe in the God of Jesus, the God of Jesus Christ, and his desire is to grow in the living experience of the mystery of love. Therefore commit ourselves to not interpose any obstacle to actions of the merciful Father, but we ask for the gift of a great faith to become ourselves signs and instruments of mercy ".

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