With Jesus Christ, a new and different life is always possible. Pope Francis stressed this during his second day in Malta during his Mass for the nation’s faithful in the city of Floriana on Sunday.
The Holy Father is visiting the Mediterranean island nation, marking his 36th Apostolic Visit abroad. His visit concludes on Sunday afternoon, following a meeting with refugees, and he then returns to Rome in the evening.
In the homily, the Holy Father recalled the day’s Gospel according to St. John about the woman caught in adultery, and highlighted the Scribes and Pharisees thought they already knew everything and did not need the teaching of Jesus.
The woman’s accusers, the Pope said, disregard their own faults, yet are very concerned with those of others. Appearing righteous and religious, the Pope said, they wish to condemn and test Jesus “under the cloak of their reputation as devout and religious men.”
Risk of denying Jesus in how we live
The Holy Father warned against hypocrisy and the urge to point the finger at others.
The Pope called on faithful to pay attention to how they treat others, “whether we do this with a look of mercy, as Jesus shows us today, or with a look of judgment, even contempt, like the accusers.”
To understand whether we are true disciples of the Master or not, the Pope said, we need to think about how we view ourselves. The woman’s accusers were convinced they had nothing to learn. Their outward appearance was “impeccable,” Francis admitted, but “they lacked the truth of the heart.
Ask Jesus what we should change
For Jesus, the Pope said, what really counts is openness and docility, and that one recognizes their need for salvation.
“It is good for us, whenever we pray, but also whenever we participate in lovely religious services,” the Pope suggested, “to ask ourselves if we are truly attuned to the Lord. We can ask Him straightaway, ‘Jesus, here I am with you, but what is it that you want from me? What is in my heart, in my life, that you want me to change? How do you want me to regard others?”
Praying like that, the Holy Father said, will do us good, “because the Master is not content with appearances; He seeks the truth of the heart.”
Even if the the situation of the woman caught in adultery seemed hopeless, Jesus opened up before her a new and unexpected horizon. He does not condemn her and restores her hope.
God, the Pope said, always leaves room for second chance. He can always find paths that lead to liberation and salvation.
The Pope stressed, off the cuff, that God always forgives. “God always forgives,” he repeated, adding, “We are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”
God believes in us
Forgiveness, the Pope stressed, changed that woman’s life. The Lord, he continued, also wants us who likewise have been forgiven by Him, to become tireless witnesses of reconciliation.
“Witnesses of a God for whom the word ‘irredeemable’ does not exist, a God who always forgives and who never stops believing in us and always gives us a chance to start anew. There is no sin or failure that we can bring before Him that cannot become the opportunity for starting to live a new and different life under the banner of mercy.”
This is the Lord Jesus, the Pope said.
If we imitate Christ, the Pope suggested, we will not be inclined to focus on condemning sins, but on setting out with love in search of sinners, showing them that a new life is possible.
Pope Francis concluded, saying, “Let us allow Him to amaze us. Let us joyfully welcome the good news He brings.”
By Deborah Castellano Lubov