VATICAN CITY — “God did not send his Son to punish sinners and crush the wicked” but to invite them to conversion, Pope Francis said this morning at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. When we construct our own image of God, reducing him to our own ideas, he said, it prevents us from experiencing his presence and being transformed in him.
Continuing his catechesis for the Year of Mercy, the pope today reflected on St Matthew’s Gospel account of Jesus’ response to the disciples of John the Baptist, when they ask him if he is the Messiah (Mt 11:2-6).
Here below please find the official English language summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis for the General Audience for September 7, 2016.
It is mercy that saves (cf. Mt 11:2-6)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our Gospel passage this morning, John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the Messiah (cf. Mt 11:2-6), since Jesus’ ministry was not what John anticipated; it did not correspond to his expectation of God’s justice. Jesus responds by telling the disciples to report what they see and hear: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the Gospel is proclaimed to the poor. Jesus shows himself to be the instrument of God’s mercy; he manifests God’s justice by bringing his consolation and salvation to all. God did not send his Son to punish sinners and crush the wicked. Rather he came to invite them to conversion, so that they too could turn back to God. Jesus then says to John’s disciples: “Blessed is he who takes no offense at me” (Mt 11:6), who does not see in me any obstacle. This happens when we have a false image of the Messiah, when we construct our own image of God, which prevents us from experiencing his real presence among us. Every time we reduce him to our ideas and whims, use his name to justify our interests, seek him only in times of difficulty, then we also lose sight of the fact that faith calls us beyond ourselves to be his missionaries in the world. Let us renew our commitment to remove every obstacle that prevents us from experiencing the merciful works of our Father, and let us ask him for an ever deeper faith so that we may be signs and instruments of his mercy.
Special Greetings to English-speaking pilgrims
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Scotland, Malta, Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United States of America. Entrusting you to the merciful love of God our Father, I pray that you may be filled with peace and joy, and become missionaries of Jesus’ mercy to all in your homes and in your communities. May God bless you!
Special Greetings to young people, the sick, and newlyweds
I address a special greeting to young people, the sick, and newlyweds. Last Sunday we celebrated the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Dear young people, may you, like her, become artisans of mercy; dear sick people, may you feel her compassionate closeness especially at the hour of the cross; and may you, dear newlyweds, be generous: call upon her so that care and attention for the weakest may never be lacking in families.