On Friday Pope Francis said that just like the biblical tax collectors, despite our sinfulness, Jesus seeks us out to be near us and to heal us, as long as we have the humility to recognize that we need him.
“First of all we must recognize this: none of us, none of us here, can say, ‘I am not a sinner.’ The Pharisees said this. And Jesus condemns them,” the Pope said July 7.
“They were proud, vain, they believed themselves to be superior to others. Instead, we are all sinners. It is our title and it is also the opportunity to attract Jesus to us. Jesus comes to us, comes to me, comes to me because I am a sinner.”
Francis spoke at a private Mass Friday morning for the maintenance staff of Vatican City. In his homily, he reflected on the day’s Gospel from St. Matthew, which tells how Jesus called St. Matthew to follow him, dining with him and with other “tax collectors and sinners.”
This scene from the Gospel is also depicted in a famous painting by Caravaggio called “The Calling of Saint Matthew,” which Pope Francis said he used to go and see in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, when he would visit Rome back before he was Pope.
“This consoles me so much,” the Pope said, “because I think Jesus came for me. Because we are all sinners. All.”
This is our consolation and our faith, he continued. That Jesus always forgives us, healing our soul. Even if you think you are weak, that you will just fall into sin again, Jesus will raise you, “heal you always,” he said.
“Jesus came for sinners, not for the righteous. They do not need it. Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, go to find out what it means I want mercy and not sacrifices. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
“When I read these words,” he said, “I feel called by Jesus, and we can all say the same: Jesus came for me. Each of us.”
Even in the bad times, when we slip up or feel the weight of the many things we have done wrong, Jesus loves you regardless. “Do not be afraid,” Francis said.
The Pope explained how it makes him think of a step in the spiritual life of St. Jerome. The saint was praying and working for the Lord, but still something was missing. The Lord wanted him to give him his sins, the Pope said.
“Today, on this first Friday,” he concluded, “we think of the heart of Jesus, who helps us understand this beautiful thing, with a merciful heart, who only says to us: ‘Give me your weaknesses, give me your sins, I will forgive all.’ Jesus forgives everything, forgives always. May this be our joy.”