Updated: February 15, 2021 07:50 AM GMT
Pope Francis speaks from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square during the weekly Angelus prayer on Feb. 14. (Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)
Pope Francis has asked Catholics around the world to remember the closeness, compassion and tenderness of God as he reflected on the Gospel in which Jesus heals a man with leprosy.
Christ broke a taboo by touching the man, the pope said during his weekly Angelus prayer on Feb. 14.
“The Gospel says that Jesus, seeing the leper, was moved with compassion, tenderness. Three words that indicate God’s style: nearness, compassion, tenderness.”
By curing the man who was considered “unclean,” Christ fulfilled the Good News which he announced, the pope said.
“God draws near to our lives, he is moved to compassion because of the fate of wounded humanity and comes to break down every barrier that prevents us from being in relationship with him, with others, and with ourselves,” he said.
In Christ, the leper found another aspect of God: “not the God who punishes but the Father of compassion and love” who liberates us from sin,” he said.
Good confessors do not hold a whip in their hands but “just welcome, listen and say that God is good and that God always forgives, that God does not get tired of forgiving,” Pope Francis said.
To touch with love means to establish a relationship, to enter into communion, to become involved in the life of another person even to the point of sharing their wounds,” he said.
With his goodwill gesture, Jesus proved that God is not indifferent and “does not keep himself at a safe distance."
He draws near out of compassion and touches our lives to heal them with tenderness. “It is God’s style: nearness, compassion, and tenderness. God’s transgression. He is a great transgressor in this sense,” the pope said.
The pope also recalled the sinful woman who was flayed for pouring a jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.
He warned the faithful against looking at sinners with prejudice.
“Each one of us might experience wounds, failure, suffering, selfishness that make us close ourselves off from God and others because sin closes us in on ourselves because of shame, because of humiliation, but God wants to open our heart,” he said.
The feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the co-patrons of Europe who evangelized the Slavs in the ninth century, is observed on Feb. 14.
“May their intercession help us find new ways to communicate the Gospel. These two were not afraid of finding new ways to communicate the Gospel. And through their intercession, may the Christian churches grow in their desire to walk toward full unity while respecting differences,” the pope said.