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Jesus Risked Scandal to Embrace Society’s Outcasts, Pope Tells New Cardinals

Diane Montagna - published on 02/16/15


“In a word,” he said, “charity cannot be neutral, indifferent, lukewarm or impartial! Charity is infectious, it excites, it risks and it engages! For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous!" (cf. 1 Cor 13). 

Contact is the true language of communication, the same endearing language which brought healing to the leper. How many healings can we perform if only we learn this language! The leper, once cured, became a messenger of God’s love. The Gospel tells us that “he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the word” (cf. Mk 1:45).

Yet for one who is living in sin, true reinstatement into God’s family requires true and humble repentance. In his Angelus address following Mass, the Pope explained that the “place” where Jesus truly draws near to us, touches us, and makes us clean is the Sacrament of Confession, which heals God’s repentent children “from the leprosy of sin.” 

Pope Francis then urged the assembled cardinals “to serve the Church in such a way that Christians — edified by our witness — will not be tempted to turn to Jesus without turning to the outcast, to become a closed caste with nothing authentically ecclesial about it." 

“I urge you to serve Jesus crucified in every person who is marginalized, for whatever reason; to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith, or turned away from the practice of their faith; to see the Lord who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper — whether in body or soul — who encounters discrimination.” 

The Pope concluded his homily to the new cardinals by holding up the example of Saint Francis, who “was unafraid to embrace the leper and to accept every kind of outcast."

"Truly," Pope Francis said, "the Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is found and revealed.”

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

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