(Vatican Radio) “How is my faith in Jesus Christ?” This was the question Pope Francis addressed in his remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day at Mass on Friday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father focused particularly on the Gospel reading, stressing that, in order really to understand Jesus, we should not have a “closed heart”, but ought to follow the path of forgiveness and humiliation. “Faith,” he said, “is something that no one can one can buy,” it is “a gift” that changes our life.
The Gospel reading on Friday was drawn from the Gospel according to St. Mark, and recounts the miraculous healing of a paralytic in Capernaum.
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The people of Capernaum were ready to do anything to get closer to Jesus – they did not heed even risks that may be incurred in order to be able to listen or simply get close enough to brush Him. So many were the people in and around the house where Jesus was, that they had to open the roof and lower the paralyzed man in search of healing into the house. “They had faith,” the Pope said, “the same faith as that lady who, also in a crowd, arranged to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, Jesus’ robe, when He going to the house of Jairus, that she too might be healed.” It was the same faith of the centurion, who desired the healing of his servant. “Strong faith, courageous, forward – looking,” said Pope Francis - hearts to faith.”
If we have closed hearts, we cannot understand Jesus
In the story of the paralytic, he noted, “Jesus goes a step further.” In Nazareth, the beginning of His ministry, “He went into the Synagogue and said he had been sent to free the oppressed, prisoners, to give sight to the blind ... to inaugurate a year of grace,” a year “of pardon, of growing closer to the Lord – to inaugurate a way to God.” Here, however, He goes a step further: not only healing the sick but forgiving their sins:
“There were those there who had their hearts closed, but accepted – up to a point – that Jesus was a healer – but forgiving sins is strong! This man is over the top! He has no right to say this, because only God can forgive sins. Only Jesus knew what they were thinking and said: ‘I am God’? - No, He did not say that. [He said,] ?Why are you thinking these things? Because you know that the Son of Man has the power – this is what makes him special [It. è il passo avanti] – to forgive sins: ‘Arise, take up your mat and be healed.’ He begins to speak the language that at some point will discourage people, some of disciples who followed him – for, hard is this language, when he speaks of eating his body as a way of salvation.”
Let us ask ourselves if faith in Jesus really changes our lives
When Jesus shows up with a power greater than that of a man, “To give that forgiveness, to give life, to recreate humanity, even His disciples doubt, and [some of them] go away.” Jesus asked a small group, ‘Do you also want to go away?’”:
“Faith in Jesus Christ: how is my faith in Jesus Christ? Do I believe that Jesus Christ is God, the Son of God? And has this faith been life-changing? Does my faith make this year of grace begin in my heart, this year of pardon, this year of growing in nearness to the Lord? Faith is a gift. No one ‘deserves’ faith. No one can buy it. It is a gift. Does ‘my’ faith in Jesus Christ, bring me to humiliation? I do not say humility: humiliation, repentance, prayer asking: ‘Forgive me, Lord. You are God. You ‘can’ forgive my sins.”
The test of our faith is the ability to praise God
Let the Lord “make us grow in faith,” was the prayer of Pope Francis. The people, he noted, “sought Jesus in order that they might hear Him, because he spoke “with authority, not as the scribes speak.” Also, he added, they followed Him because He healed people, because he performed miracles – but in the end, “these people, after seeing this, went away and they were all amazed, and glorified God”:
“Praise: the proof that I believe that Jesus Christ is God in my life, that He was sent to me to ‘forgive me’, is praise; if I have the ability to praise God. Praise the Lord. This is free - praise is gratis. It is a sentiment that the Holy Spirit gives and that brings you to say: ‘You are the only God.’ May the Lord make us grow in faith in Jesus Christ, God, who forgives us, who gives us a year of grace – and this faith leads us to praise.”