Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican on Monday morning. In remarks that followed the readings of the day, the Holy Father spoke of Christian discipleship as an abiding in Christ – in His Church, to which Christ calls us and brings us to return – even those who are far away.
The healing of the demoniac boy in the Gospel according to St Mark was the principal focus of Pope Francis’ reflections.
“All the [noise and excitement created by the crowd gathered round the disciples, who had failed to liberate the boy], all the talk, ends in an act: Jesus lowers Himself [and] takes up the boy. These acts of Jesus make us think. When He heals, when He goes among the crowds and heals a person, He never leaves that person alone. He is not a wizard, a sorcerer, a “healer” who goes and [plies his trade] and is on his way: everyone [he helps], he helps to return to his proper place – He leaves no one on the side of the road. These acts of Jesus are very beautiful, indeed.”
Pope Francis went on to explain that such gestures are found throughout the Gospels: from the resurrection of Lazarus; to the raising of the daughter of Jairus or of the widow’s son – as well as the lost sheep returned to the fold or the lost coin recovered by the woman. “Jesus,” said Pope Francis, “always makes sure we get safely home. He never leaves us alone along the way.”:
“Because Jesus did not only come from Heaven. He is the Son of a People. Jesus is the promise made to that People, which, beginning with Abraham, made its way toward the promise. These gestures of Jesus teach us that every healing, every [act of] pardon, always helps us return to our People, which is the Church.”
Jesus always forgives, and his acts [of forgiveness] become “revolutionary” or “inexplicable” when they reach those who [seem to us to be too far gone], like Matthew the tax collector or his colleague, Zacchaeus. Christ’s healing acts always lead people “home” – and thus it is impossible to understand Jesus without the People of God. “It is,” he said, “an absurdity to love Christ without the Church, to feel Christ but not the Church, to follow Christ from the outskirts of the Church.” “Christ and the Church are united,” he said. “Whenever Christ calls a person, He brings that person to the Church.” For this, said Pope Francis, “it is good [that a child] “come to be baptized in Church – Mother Church.”:
“And these, Jesus’ gestures of so much tenderness make us realize this: that our doctrine, let us say, or our following Christ, is not an idea. It is a constant abiding at home – and though each of us has the opportunity and the real experience of leaving home for a sin, a mistake – God knows – salvation [means] going home with Jesus in the Church. These are gestures of tenderness. One by one, the Lord is calling us as well, to His people, into His family, our mother, the Holy Church. Let us think on these acts of Jesus.”
Source: Vatican Radio