(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Sunday that “No human condition constitutes grounds for exclusion from the heart of the Father.”
The Pope was speaking during the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on the day upon which we mark the International Day of Leprosy.
The only privilege in the eyes of God – Pope Francis told the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square - is to have no privileges and to be abandoned in His hands."
And calling on all men and women to guard themselves against the temptation of treating religion as a human investment and of thinking they can “bargain” with God seeking to obtain their own interests, the Pope urged the faithful to open their hearts to the Lord and to his Revelation.
Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading of the day in which Jesus, speaking at the Synagogue, mentions great prophets like Elijah and Elisha who were not given credit, and then he himself is driven out of town “but passed through the midst of them and went away”.
He said that the Scripture passage is fulfilled today as it was during the time of Jesus.
And he reminded the faithful that God the Father cares for all his creatures, even the smallest and the most insignificant in the eyes of men and that it is always He who takes the first step: “comes to visit us with his mercy, raises us from the dust of our sins”.
God – Pope Francis said – “holds out His hand to draw us back from the abyss into which we have been driven by our pride, and invites us to welcome the consoling truth of the Gospel and to walk on the right paths: He always comes to looking for us” and no human condition constitutes grounds for exclusion from His heart.
After the Marian prayer, the Pope turned his attention to the World Day of Leprosy.
A "disease – he said - that while being in regression, unfortunately still affects the poorest and most marginalized."
And stressing the fact that it is important to show solidarity to these brothers and sisters who are disabled as a result of this disease, the Pope assured them of his prayers and pledged his support to those who assist them.
Pope Francis also had a special greeting for a group of boys and girls of the Italian Catholic Action movement from the Diocese of Rome.
Commending them for having just passed through the Holy Door of Mercy, he encouraged them to be instruments of peace and mercy among their peers.
Finally, the launch of coloured balloons symbolizing peace and a request that has become customary from Pope Francis but that never fails to touch one’s heart: “Please do not forget to pray for me.”