Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he asked those gathered to ask themselves to consider their own faith in Christ, reported Vatican Radio.
“How is my faith in Jesus Christ?” he urged them to reflect, as he reflected on today’s readings.
Recalling today’s Gospel from St. Mark, which recounted the miraculous healing of a paralytic in Capernaum, Francis stressed that ‘no one can buy faith,’ for it is ‘a gift that changes our life.’
Must Open Our Hearts
In order to really understand Jesus, he underscored, we cannot have a “closed heart,” and rather, need to follow the path of forgiveness and humiliation.
To illustrate what it means to really have faith, the Pope turned to the people of Capernaum, who were ready to do anything to get closer to Jesus, taking whatever risks may have come their way. So confident they were in Him and His healing, they overcrowded and surrounded the home where the Lord would heal. He also reminded them that the roof had to be opened for the paralyzed man to be lowered into the home.
Need for Courageous, Forward-looking Hearts
“They had faith,” the Pope exclaimed, “the same faith as that lady who, also in a crowd, arranged to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, Jesus’ robe, when He was going to the house of Jairus, that she too might be healed.” He observed this was the same faith of the centurion, who wished for his servant to be healed.
“Strong faith, courageous, forward – looking,” the Holy Father said, “hearts to faith.”
Closed Hearts Cannot Understand Jesus
In the paralytic’s story, the Jesuit Pope said, “Jesus goes a step further,” of not just healing, but forgiving.
“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, the Pope reflected, 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.’”
The Holy Father observed that here, “Jesus 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.”
All doubt: but are you a disciple that stays, or goes away?
He urged those gathered to reflect whether Jesus does, really, change their 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?”
No One Deserves Faith
Faith is a gift, the Pope stressed, noting, No one ‘deserves’ faith nor can buy it. Therefore, we are to always be humble, repent and pray: ‘Forgive me, Lord. You are God. You ‘can’ forgive my sins.”
The Pontiff prayed that the Lord “make us grow in faith.”
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.”
He noted the Holy Spirit gives us this feeling and ability to express this, bringing us to say: ‘You are the only God.’
The Pontiff concluded, praying that the Lord “makes us grow in our faith in Jesus Christ, God, who forgives us, who gives us a year of grace – and this faith leads us to praise.”