“Saint Paul teaches us to accuse ourselves. And the Lord, with that image of the speck that is in your brother’s eye and the beam in yours, teaches us the same.”
These were Pope Francis’ words during his homily this morning at Mass in Casa Santa Marta.
According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father began by reflecting on today’s first reading from St. Paul’s 1st Letter to Timothy, in which the apostle praises God’s mercy on him despite his sins.
“I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief,” St. Paul says.
Commenting on the beauty of Paul’s words, the Holy Father explained that the first step in obtaining such humility is to accuse one’s self.
“The courage to accuse yourself, before accusing the others,” he said. “And Paul praises the Lord because He chose him and gives thanks ‘because He considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man’. But there was mercy.”
Like the first reading, the 78-year-old Pontiff noted, today’s Gospel also speaks on the importance of accusing ourselves.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?” Jesus asks his disciples in Luke’s Gospel.
Jesus, the Holy Father explained, uses a specific word to describe those who are “two-faced”: hypocrite.
“The man and woman who do not learn to accuse themselves become hypocrites,” he said.
“Everyone, eh? Everyone. Beginning with the Pope all the way down: everyone. If one of us does not have the ability to accuse themselves and then says […] things about others, they are not Christian, they do not enter into this beautiful work of reconciliation, of peace, of tenderness, of goodness, of forgiveness, of magnanimity, of mercy that Jesus Christ has brought to us.”
The Jesuit Pope called on the faithful to pray for the Lord’s grace of conversion and to pause before pointing out another’s defects. Recalling St. Paul’s words, the Pope said that first step to magnanimity is to save those comments about others and instead make comments about ourselves.
“The one who only knows how to look at the speck in another’s eye, ends up in pettiness: a petty soul, full of trivialities, full of gossip,” he warned.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to ask God for the grace to be generous in forgiveness and in mercy.
“To canonize a person,” he said, “there is a whole process, there is a need for a miracle and then the Church declares the person a saint. But, if a person who has never, never spoken ill of another is found, they can be canonized immediately.”