“Hope is a Christian virtue that is a great gift from God and that allows us to see beyond problems, pain, difficulties, beyond our sins. It allows us to see the beauty of God”.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, underscoring that those who have hope have the freedom and strength to see beyond the bad times, as well as opens up horizons and gives us freedom.
Reflecting on today’s Gospel, in which the chief priests question Jesus and ask with which authority does He act, the Pope said: “They have no horizons, they are men who are locked in their calculations, they are slaves to their rigidity”
“Human calculations,” the Pontiff warned, “close hearts and shut out freedom”, while “hope gives us levity.”
Drawing inspiration from today’s first reading from the Book of Numbers, which tells of Balaam, a prophet hired by a king to curse Israel, the Pope observed that Balaam “had his faults, and he had sins as well, because we all have sins. We are all sinners”.
Pope Francis told those gathered not to panic, and reminded them, “God is greater than our sins”.
The Holy Father noted that at a certain point, Balaam meets the angel of the Lord and has a change of heart, and understands what his error is. Balaam opens his heart, repents and sees the truth, Francis noted, because “with good will one always sees the truth. Truth that gives hope.”
While Francis reflected on the beauty of freedom, of the hope of men and women of the Church, he also criticized the rigidity of others in the Church and “that clerical stiffness that contains no hope.”
“In this Year of Mercy,” the Pope said, “there are these two paths: one of those who hope in God’s mercy and know that God is the Father; and then there are those who take refuge in the slavery of rigidity and know nothing of God’s mercy.”
Before concluding, Pope Francis recalled an event that occurred during a Mass for the ill, in Buenos Aires in 1992. He recalled that he had been confessing for many hours when he received a very old woman “with eyes that were full of hope.
“I said: ‘Grandma, are you coming to confession?’ Because I was about to leave. ‘Yes’ she answered and I said: ‘you have not sinned’. She said: ‘Father: we have all sinned – But God forgives all’. ‘How do you know?’ I asked, and she said: ‘Because if God did not forgive all, the world would not exist.’”
Therefore, Pope Francis highlighted, before these two types of people, “the free one, the one with hope who brings God’s mercy,” and “the closed, legalistic slave of his own rigidity,” we are to “remember the words of the old lady and the lesson she gave me: ‘God forgives all, He is just waiting for you to get close to Him.'”