Pope Francis on Friday celebrated Mass for the maintenance staff of Vatican City State, reminding them that our joy and our salvation lies in the fact that Jesus came so that we can all be forgiven our sins.
Speaking to a group of Vatican employees who take care of maintenance and general services, the Pope reflected on the Gospel reading of the day which speaks of how Jesus invited Matthew, a tax collector, to dine with him at his house.
He illustrated his words recalling a Caravaggio painting “The Calling of St. Matthew” which he said, he used to like going to see when he could walk the streets of Rome freely,before becoming Pope, and he described the scene that features Matthew counting his money, and Jesus pointing at him with his finger as he chooses him to dine at his table.
“When the Pharisees saw this – the Pope said – they said to his disciples ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ the answer they received was ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do”.
“This, the Pope said, is an immense consolation because it means that Jesus came for me”. “We are all sinners” he continued, “We all have a degree in sin.”
The Pharisees, Francis explained, considered themselves just and criticized Jesus for spending time in bad company, but the Lord said ‘I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.’
Each of us, Pope Francis said, must recognize our strengths, our weaknesses, our sins. He pointed out that Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they were arrogant, vain and considered themselves to be superior to others.
But Jesus, he said, comes to us because we are sinners, and those who acknowledge this also know that Jesus “always forgives, always heals our souls.”
“And when you are afraid of being weak and of falling, Jesus will help you back to your feet, he will heal you. This is our consolation. (…) Do not be afraid. In bad times, in moments in which we feel weighed down from things we may have done, during the many slippery slopes of life… remember: Jesus loves me because this is who I am” he said.
Pope Francis then recalled the figure of Saint Jerome who offered the Lord his work of many years to which Jesus replied “No. Jerome. That is not what I want most.” Finally Jerome asked Jesus to tell him what would give him the most joy, and Jesus replied “Give me your sins…”
“Today, he concluded, let us give Jesus our sins, let us think of His merciful heart. May it be our joy.”