Pope: Living out one's faith is useless without a repentant heart

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Without a repentant heart,
Christians can risk living out their faith superficially and fail to live out
God’s desire for “mercy, not sacrifice,” Pope Francis said.

Instead, Jesus’ love for
sinners shows that the church is not “a community of perfect people, but
disciples on a path who follow the Lord because they recognize themselves as
sinners and in need of his forgiveness,” the pope said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s
Square April 13.

Jesus’ mission is “to
search for each one of us, to heal our wounds and call us to follow him with love,” he

The pope reflected on the
Gospel passage, which recounted Jesus calling Matthew to follow him despite the
fact he was a tax collector and considered a sinner by the people.

Jesus, he said, did not
rebuke him for his past but dines with him and “opens up a new

“There is no saint
without a past and there is not sinner without a future. This is beautiful;
this is what Jesus does,” he said.

However, like the scribes and
Pharisees, there is also the temptation for Christians to fall into pride and
arrogance and believe themselves better than others. For Christ, no sinner is
excluded because “God’s healing power knows no sickness that cannot be
cured,” the pope said.

Jesus, he added, was not
afraid of talking to sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes, thus revealing
the true meaning behind the prophet Hosea’s call for “mercy, not

“Those Pharisees were
very religious in practice, but were unable to share a table with tax
collectors and sinners,” he said. “While being faithful guardians of
the law, they had no knowledge of God’s heart.”

Pope Francis called on the
faithful to “look with mercy” upon others while reminding them that
“we are all disciples in need of experiencing and living the comforting
words of Jesus.”

“We all need to be
nourished by the mercy of God because our salvation comes from this
source,” the pope said. 

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