“We are all sinners. It is our title and it is also the possibility to attract Jesus to us. Jesus comes to us, He comes to me, He comes to me because I am a sinner,” said Pope Francis in the homily he gave this Friday morning, July 7, 2017, during the Mass celebrated for the workers of the Vatican’s industrial center.
The Pope commented the Gospel of the day in which Jesus sees Matthew seated at his tax collector’s desk and invites him to follow Him. Matthew rises immediately and follows Him. Seeing Jesus seated at table with many publicans, the Pharisees are indignant, but Jesus tells them that He came for sinners, not for those who think they are righteous.
This last phrase of Jesus is a comfort for the Pope: “This consoles me a lot, he said, because I think that Jesus came for me,” recalling how he loved going to Rome’s church of Saint Louis of the French to gaze at Caravaggio’s painting depicting Saint Matthew’s calling.
Finally, recalling the famous dialogue between the Lord and Saint Jerome, the Pontiff concluded: “Today, on this first Friday, let us think of Jesus’ heart, may He make us understand this beautiful thing, with His merciful heart, which simply says to us: “Give Me your weaknesses, give Me your sins, I forgive you everything.” Jesus forgives everything, He forgives always.”
Here is a translation of the Pope’s homily pronounced in Italian.
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The Holy Father’s Homily
First of all, I want to thank you for the invitation to celebrate this Mass with you, workers. Jesus comes, He knows what work is, He understands us well; He understands us very well. I would also like to say a prayer for our beloved Sandro [Mariotti]. Yesterday his father left us. His father worked here, in the Vatican. He left as the righteous . . . he was with friends at the beach and . . .
Let us pray for Sandro’s father and for Sandro.
Now I would like to say something to you about the Gospel. Jesus saw a man called Matthew, seated at the tax desk. He was a publican. These people were judged the worst, because they were . . . because they made <people> pay taxes and sent the money to the Romans, and they would put part of it in their pockets. They gave it to the Romans: they sold the homeland’s freedom that is why they were hated. They were betrayers of the homeland. Jesus called him. He saw him and He called him. Follow Me. Jesus chose an apostle . . . among those people, the worst. Then this Matthew, invited to lunch, was joyful.
Before, when I lodged on via della Scrofa, I liked to go – now I can’t – to Saint Louis of the French to look at Caravaggio’s The Conversion of Matthew, he who clung to money like this [he does the gesture] and Jesus, who points to him with His finger [. . .] He was attached to money, and Jesus chose him. He invites all the gang to lunch, betrayers of the homeland, the publicans. Seeing this, the Pharisees who considered themselves righteous, judged everyone and said: “But how is it that your Teacher has this company?” Jesus says: “I came to call not the righteous but sinners.”
This consoles me so much, because I think that Jesus came for me, because we are all sinners — all. We all have this degree; we are graduated. Each one of us knows where his sin, his weakness is strongest. We must first of all recognize this: none of us, all of us who are here can say: “I’m not a sinner.” The Pharisees said this, and Jesus condemned them. They were arrogant, vain, believed themselves superior to others. Instead, we are all sinners. It is our title and it is also the possibility to attract Jesus to us. Jesus comes to us, He comes to me; He comes to me because I am a sinner.
Jesus came for this, for sinners, not for the righteous, they don’t have the need. Jesus says: ”Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice, ’for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
When I read this, I feel called by Jesus, and we can all say the same: Jesus came for me — every one of us.
This is our consolation and our confidence: that He always forgives, He always heals the soul, always, always. “But I am weak, I’ll fall again . . .” It will be Jesus who raises you, heals you, always [. . .] This is our consolation. Jesus came for me, to [. . .] give me strength, to make me happy, to give me a tranquil conscience. Do not be afraid. In awful moments, when one feels the weight of the many things we have done, so many slips in life, so many things, and feel the weight . . . Jesus loves me because I am like that.
There comes to mind a passage of the life of a great Saint, Jerome, who had a temper, and tried to be meek, but that temper . . . because he was a Dalmatian, and Dalmatians are strong . . . He succeeded in controlling his way of being and so offered many things to the Lord, so much work, and he prayed to the Lord: “What do you want from me?” “You have not yet given Me everything.” “But Lord, I’ve given You this, and that and that . . .” “One thing is lacking.” “What is lacking?” “Give me your sins.”
It’s lovely to hear this: “Give me your sins, your weaknesses, I will heal you, you go forward.”
Today, this first Friday, let us think of Jesus’ heart, may He make us understand this lovely thing, with His merciful heart that only says to us: “Give Me your weaknesses, give Me your sins, I forgive everything.” Jesus forgives everything; He forgives always.
May this be our joy.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]