Vatican City: April 13, 2016. (VR) The Church is a community of disciples who follow Christ because they recognize they are sinners in need of forgiveness, Pope Francis said during the Wednesday general audience in St Peter’s Square.
This week’s catechesis of the Pope centred on the Gospel account of Jesus calling St Matthew – a tax collector and a sinner – to be his disciple.
He said that by eating with the tax collectors and sinners, Jesus shows how even they can become disciples.
“Like the tax collector Matthew, every one of us relies on the Lord’s grace, despite our sins. We are all sinners. All of us have sinned.”
“The Church is not a community of the perfect, but of disciples on their way, who follow the Lord because they recognize they are sinners and need forgiveness.”
Pope Francis observed that those who are arrogant and proud are not able to recognize their need for salvation, thereby impeding their ability to see the “merciful face of God” and to act with mercy.
However, the Pope said Jesus is the “good doctor,” and there is no sickness he cannot cure.
God’s Word is “like a scalpel” which deeply penetrates us in order to “free us from the evil which lurks in our lives.”
“At times this Word is painful because it cuts into hypocrisy, unmasks false excuses, exposes the hidden truth.” However, it also “illuminates and purifies, gives strength and hope,” and restores us on “our journey of faith.”
Pope Francis spoke of the importance of the Eucharist as a “powerful remedy” which “renews the grace of our baptism.”
“Drawing near to the Eucharist, we nourish ourselves with the Body and Blood of Jesus, and yet, coming to us, it is Jesus who unites us with his Body!”
Turning to the prophet Hosea’s words on God’s desire for mercy and not sacrifice, the Pope said the Pharisees did not understand “God’s heart,” for they did not recognize the possibility of reformation and healing, trusting in the law over mercy.
“It was as though someone gave you a box with a gift inside and you, rather than looking for the gift, only looked at the paper in which it was wrapped: only the appearances, the form, but not the grace at the core, the gift which is given to everyone!”
At the conclusion of the general audience, Pope Francis issued an appeal for prayer ahead of his 16 April visit to Lesbos where he will meet with refugees.