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Pope urges new cardinals: reach out to the marginalized with love

February 16, 2015

“Our credibility is at stake, is discovered, and is revealed” in the decision to reach out with mercy to the marginalized, Pope Francis preached at a February 15 Mass concelebrated with the College of Cardinals.

“Compassion leads Jesus to concrete action: he reinstates the marginalized,” the Pope said, as he reflected upon the Gospel reading of the day.

“Jesus, the new Moses, wanted to heal the leper,” the Pope said. “He wanted to touch him and restore him to the community without being ‘hemmed in’ by prejudice, conformity to the prevailing mindset or worry about becoming infected. Jesus responds immediately to the leper’s plea, without waiting to study the situation and all its possible consequences!”

“For Jesus, what matters above all is reaching out to save those far off, healing the wounds of the sick, restoring everyone to God’s family!” the Pope continued. “And this is scandalous to some people!”

The Pope added:

Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal! He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalized even by a work of healing, scandalized before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual boxes, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity. He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp.

There are two ways of thinking and of having faith: we can fear to lose the saved and we can want to save the lost. Even today it can happen that we stand at the crossroads of these two ways of thinking. The thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove the danger by casting out the diseased person, and the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces and accepts by reinstating him and turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation and exclusion into proclamation.

These two ways of thinking are present throughout the Church’s history: casting off and reinstating. Saint Paul, following the Lord’s command to bring the Gospel message to the ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19), caused scandal and met powerful resistance and great hostility, especially from those who demanded unconditional obedience to the Mosaic law, even on the part of converted pagans … The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement.

“Charity cannot be neutral, antiseptic, indifferent, lukewarm or impartial,” he continued. “Charity is infectious, it excites, it risks and it engages … Contact is the language of genuine communication, the same endearing language which brought healing to the leper. How many healings can we perform if only we learn this language of contact!”

“Dear new Cardinals, this is the ‘logic,’ the mind of Jesus, and this is the way of the Church,” the Pope added. “Not only to welcome and reinstate with evangelical courage all those who knock at our door, but to go out and seek, fearlessly and without prejudice, those who are distant, freely sharing what we ourselves freely received … Total openness to serving others is our hallmark, it alone is our title of honor!”


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