Monday, August 26, 2013
DOES POPE FRANCIS' IMPRECISION IN SPEAKING LEAD TO MISUNDERSTANDINGS AND SPINNING?
In the south, our Protestant friends always accused us Catholics that we could sin all they wanted on Friday night, go to Confession on Saturday and be like a saint on Sunday receiving Holy Communion piously. Is Pope Francis perpetuating this myth? This is Vatican Radio's summary of Pope Francis' Angelus talk on Sunday. My comments at the end:
(Vatican Radio) In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the words of Jesus from the day’s Gospel: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”
The Holy Father noted that Jesus was responding to the question of how many people will be saved. But, the Pope said, “it is not important to know how many are saved. Rather, it is important to know what is the path of salvation.” Jesus Himself is the gate, a gate “that allows us to enter into God's family, into the warmth of the house of God, of communion with Him. This gate is Jesus Himself.”
Pope Francis emphasized that “the gate that is Jesus is never closed . . . it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges.” Jesus, he continued, does not exclude anyone. Some people might feel excluded because they are sinners – but Pope Francis definitively rejected this idea. “No,” he said, “you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you.”
We are called to enter the gate that is Jesus. “Don’t be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said. Don’t be afraid “to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others.”
Jesus speaks about a narrow gate not because it is a “torture chamber," but “because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him.”
Finally, the Holy Father emphasized that Christianity is not a “label” – it is a way of life. Christians must not be Christians in name only: “Not Christians, never Christians because of a label!” he said. He called us to be true Christians, Christians at heart. “To be Christian,” said Pope Francis, "is to live and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. For the narrow gate which is Christ must pass into our whole life.”
MY COMMENTS: I personally love the way Pope Francis speaks. He is down to earth and people easily understand his concepts. The problem isn't so much with what he says, but with what he doesn't say which he may presume is known, but as most of us know today, we can't presume that Catholics and others who hear the pope know the Catholic Faith.
"Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you." But what the Holy Father doesn't say is the need for "repentance" on the part of the sinner as a prerequisite for forgiveness of sins committed after Holy Baptism. Is he taking for granted that people, even Catholics, know that?
It is one thing to know my need for salvation, for forgiveness, for love and the need for humility to accept His mercy and be renewed by Him, but another thing altogether that I am willing to repent and by God's grace change my life.
Don't get me wrong, I know the Pope is Catholic and that he knows repentance on the part of the sinner, which of course is made possible only by God's grace, is necessary for forgiveness.
I also know that many people who come to Christ at Mass and come to Holy Communion have no intention of changing their sinful lifestyles because they either don't think it is sinful or they simply have given up trying to change and thus justify their behavior and their receiving Holy Communion. Others don't think Christ cares that they are unrepentant sinners.
What about that and is Pope Francis confirming this attitude?