VATICAN CITY — God didn't choose perfect people to form His Church, but rather sinners who have experienced His love and forgiveness, Pope Francis said.
The Gospel of Luke's account of Jesus forgiving the sinful woman shows how His actions went against the general mentality of his time, a "clear separation" between the pure and impure, the pope said Aug. 9 at his weekly general audience.
"There were some scribes, those who believed they were perfect," the pope said. "And I think about so many Catholics who think they are perfect and scorn others. This is sad."
Continuing his series of audience talks about Christian hope, the pope reflected on Jesus' "scandalous gesture" of forgiving the sinful woman.
The woman was among many poor women who were were visited secretly, even by those who denounced them as sinful.
Jesus' love toward the sick and the marginalized "baffles His contemporaries," Pope Francis said, adding that it reveals God's heart as the place where suffering men and women can find love, compassion and healing. "How many people continue today in a wayward life because they find no one willing to look at them in a different way, with the eyes — or better yet — with the heart of God, meaning with hope. (But) Jesus sees the possibility of a resurrection even in those who have made so many wrong choices."
Often, Christians become accustomed to having their sins forgiven and receiving God's unconditional love while forgetting the heavy price Jesus paid by dying on the cross, the pope said. By forgiving sinners, Jesus doesn't seek to free them from a guilty conscience, but rather offers "people who have made mistakes the hope of a new life, a life marked by love."
The Church is a people formed "of sinners who have experienced the mercy and forgiveness of God," the pope said. Christians are "all poor sinners" who need God's mercy, "which strengthens us and gives us hope."
VATICAN CITY — Summertime can and should be a time for extra prayer, a moment of peace that allows Christians to savor the joy of their relationship with Jesus and find new strength to reach out with love to others, Pope Francis said.
Before reciting the Angelus Aug. 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, Pope Francis talked about the Gospel story of the disciples going up Mount Tabor with Jesus, "detaching themselves from mundane things" and contemplating the transfigured Lord.
Today, too, Christ's disciples need to "rediscover the pacifying and regenerating silence" that comes from prayer and meditating on a Gospel passage.
"When we put ourselves in this situation, with the Bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this interior beauty, this joy that the word of God generates in us," the pope said.
He told students who were on summer holiday and those vacationing, "It's important that in the period of rest and breaking away from daily concerns, you restore the energies of your body and soul, deepening your spiritual journey."
The disciples who saw Jesus transfigured, he said, were changed by the event and descended the mountain, back into their daily lives, "with eyes and hearts transfigured by their encounter with the Lord. We, too, can follow this path."
An encounter with the Lord, he said, should inspire further steps of conversion and a greater witness of charity.
Pope Francis prayed that Mary would watch over people on vacation, but also that she would care for "those who cannot take a vacation because they are impeded by age, health or work, by economic difficulties or other problems."
— Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
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