Salvation is free, not a 'pay to save' deal with God, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When it comes to salvation, God does
not seek any form of compensation and offers it freely to those in need of his
love, Pope Francis said.

A Christian who complains of not receiving a reward for
going to Mass every Sunday and fulfilling certain obligations “doesn’t
understand the gratuity of salvation,” the pope said Nov. 7 in his homily
at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“He thinks salvation is the fruit of ‘I pay and you
save me. I pay with this, with this, with this.’ No, salvation is free and if
you do not enter in this dynamic of gratuity, you don’t understand
anything,” he said.

The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St.
Luke, in which Jesus recounts the parable of the banquet of a rich man who,
after having his invitation spurned by his guests, invites “the poor and
the crippled, the blind and the lame” to enjoy his feast.

Those who rejected the rich man’s invitation, the pope said,
were “consumed by their own interests” and did not understand the generosity
of the invitation.

“If the gratuitousness of God’s invitation isn’t
understood, nothing is understood. God’s initiative is always free. But what
must you pay to go to this banquet?” the pope asked. “The entry
ticket is to be sick, to be poor, to be a sinner. These things allow you to
enter, this is the entry ticket: to be needy in both body and soul. It’s for those in need of
care, healing, in need of love,” he said.

God asks for nothing in return but “love and faithfulness,” the pope said.
“Salvation isn’t bought; you simply enter the banquet.”

Pope Francis said those who decline to accept the invitation are consumed by
other things that provide a certain sense of security, but they “have lost something much
greater and more beautiful: they have lost the ability to feel loved.”

“When you lose the ability to feel loved, there is no
hope, you have lost everything,” he said. “This calls to mind what is
written on the gates of hell in Dante’s Inferno: ‘Abandon all hope,’ you have lost

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