Pope confides something personal at his last Wednesday audience before the summer holidays
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis revealed today that he prays five ‘Our Fathers’ before going to bed each night, one for each of Jesus’ wounds.
Commenting on Jesus’ healing of the leper (Luke 5:12-16) at today’s Wednesday general audience, his final audience before taking a summer pause, the pope’s catechesis centered on the leper’s plea to Jesus: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”
“I will confide something personal to you,” Pope Francis told the faithful and pilgrims gathered in a sunny St. Peter’s Square. “In the evening, before going to bed, I pray this short prayer: ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ (Luke 5:12). And I pray five ‘Our Fathers,’ one for each of Jesus’ wounds, because Jesus has cleansed us by his wounds.”
“If I do this, you can too, at your home, and say: ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean’ and think of Jesus’ wounds and say one ‘Our Father’ for each of them. Jesus always hears us,” he said.
The leper in the Gospel “does not ask only to be healed, but to be ‘cleansed,’ that is, made completely whole, in body and heart,” Pope Francis explained. “Indeed, leprosy was considered a kind of curse from God, a form of deep impurity. The leper had to keep far away from everyone; he could not enter the temple or any divine service. Far from God and far from men. What a sad life these people lived.”
The leper’s plea teaches us that when we present ourselves to Jesus, “it is not necessary to make long speeches,” the pope continued, saying: “A few words are enough, provided they are accompanied by full confidence in his omnipotence and his goodness.”
Jesus is deeply struck by this man’s faith and trust. As St. Mark tells us in his parallel account, “moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I will; be clean’ (Mk 1:41). “Contrary to the prescriptions of the Law of Moses, which prohibited anyone from approaching a leper” (cf. Leviticus 13:45-46), Pope Francis explained, “Jesus stretches out his hand and touches him.”
“How often do we really encounter a poor man when he comes to us?,” Pope Francis asked. “We may even be generous, we may have pity, but usually we do not touch him. We offer him a coin, we toss it there, but we avoid touching his hand. And we forget that that is the body of Jesus. Jesus teaches us not to be afraid to touch the poor and the outcast, because He is in them.”
A group of refugees who came to Rome with Caritas Florence and the European University joined the Holy Father at today’s General Audience.
“Many think that it would have been better for them to remain in their homeland, but they were suffering so much there,” the Pope said. “They are our refugees, but so many think of them as outsiders. Please, they are our brothers. A Christian does not exclude anyone; give everyone a place, let everyone come.”
After the audience, the young refugees had their photo taken with the Pope, carrying a banner which read: “Refugees for a Future Together.”
Also among those present in St. Peter’s Square today were a group of motorcyclists from Krakow who are taking part in a pilgrimage to Rome.
The pilgrimage was organized by Fr. Adam Parszywka, head of communications for the World Youth Day organizing committee, and director of the Salesian Volunteer Mission, “Young People for the World.”
Concluding his last Wednesday catechesis before the summer holidays, Pope Francis again reminded everyone to examine their conscience at the end each day, kneel before God and pray: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”
“Do it, do it before going to bed, every evening,” he said.
Read the Pope’s full address here.
Diane Montagnais Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.