Pope Francis stressed a common theme in his preaching Tuesday morning: Jesus came to save, not to condemn.
He made his point during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, lamenting Christians who judge things “from the smallness of their hearts”.
In his homily at Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the Old Testament figure of Jonah, swallowed by a whale during his voyage to Tarshish. Of course, his three days in the belly of the whale and subsequent release prefigure Christ’s Resurrection on the third day.
Tuesday’s first reading continues Jonah’s story where, this time, he obeys God, goes to preach to the Ninevites who convert and God relents from punishing them. The Pope said this time the “stubborn Jonah” did his job well and left.
The Holy Father said that tomorrow’s Mass reading will show Jonah angry at the Lord because he is too merciful and because He does the opposite of what he threatened to do.
Jonah says to the Lord that it is better to die than to continue this work as a prophet of God, who in the end does the opposite of what He sent him to do.
The Pope noted that the heated exchange between the Lord and Jonah is between two hardheads.
Jonah is stubborn with his convictions of faith; the Lord is stubborn in his mercy. He never leaves us, he knocks on the door of the heart till the end. He’s always there.
Jonah was stubborn because he put conditions on his faith. The Pope points to him as the model of those Christians who always put conditions saying, “I am a Christian on condition that things are done this way.”
The Holy Father emphasized that “conditions” lock up many Christians in their own ideas and they take up the ugly path of ideology against the path of faith. He said such Christians are afraid of growing, of the challenges of life, of the challenges of the Lord, of the challenges of history and are attached to their first convictions and ideologies. They are Christians who continue to “prefer ideology to faith” and move away from the community, afraid to place themselves in the hands of God and prefer to judge everything from the “smallness of their hearts”.