APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
IN PANAMA ON THE OCCASION OF THE
XXXIV WORLD YOUTH DAY
(23-28 JANUARY 2019)
PENITENTIAL LITURGY WITH THE YOUNG PRIVATE OF FREEDOM
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER
Centro de Cumplimiento de Menores Las Garzas de Pacora (Panama)
Friday, 25 January 2019
"He welcomes sinners and eats with them" (Lk 15: 2), we have just heard in the Gospel. It is what some Pharisees, scribes, doctors of the law murmured, rather scandalized, rather annoyed by the way Jesus behaved.
With this expression they tried to disqualify him, discredit him in front of everyone, but they did nothing but highlight one of the most common, most distinctive, most beautiful attitudes of Jesus: "He welcomes sinners and eats with them". And we are all sinners, all, and for this Jesus welcomes us with affection, all of us who are here; and if anyone does not feel a sinner, among all of us who are here, know that Jesus will not receive him, we will lose the best.
Jesus is not afraid of approaching those who, for a thousand reasons, carried the weight of social hatred, as in the case of publicans - remember that the publicans were enriched by robbing their own people; they aroused much, much indignation - or they brought social hatred because they had made some mistakes in their lives, mistakes and mistakes, some guilt, and so they called them sinners. Jesus does so because he knows that in Heaven there is more celebration for one of those who err, of converted sinners, who for ninety-nine just who continue well (cf. Lk 15: 7).
And while these people merely murmured or disdained, because Jesus met with people marked by some social error, some sin, and closed the doors of conversion, of dialogue with Jesus, Jesus approaches and compromises, Jesus puts in I play his reputation and always invites us to look at a horizon capable of renewing life, of renewing history. Everyone, we all have a horizon. All. Someone can say, "I do not have it". Open the window, and you will find it. Open the window of your heart, open the window of love that is Jesus, and you will find it. We all have a horizon. They are two very different looks that are opposed: that of Jesus and that of these doctors of the law. A sterile and infertile look - that of murmuring and gossip, which always speaks ill of others and feels right - and another - that of the Lord - that calls to transformation and conversion, to a new life, like you you said a little while ago [addressed to the young man who made the testimony].
The look of murmuring and gossip
And this is not only valid for those times, it is also valid for today! Many do not bear and do not like this choice of Jesus, indeed, first in a low voice and finally shouting they express their disappointment trying to discredit this behavior of Jesus and all those who stand with Him. They do not accept, they refuse this choice to be near and to offer new opportunities. These people condemn once and for all, discredit once and for all and forget that in the eyes of God they themselves are discredited and need tenderness, they need love and understanding, but they do not want to accept. They do not accept it. With people's lives it seems easier to give titles and labels that freeze and stigmatize not only the past but also the present and the future of people. We put labels on people: this is how it is, that has done this and now it is there and must take it for the rest of its days. So it is these people who mumble, the gossipers, they are like that. Labels that, in the end, do nothing but divide: here the good, beyond the bad ones; here the righteous, beyond the sinners. And this, Jesus does not accept it. This is the culture of the adjective: we like to "adject" people, we like it a lot. "What's your name?" - "My name is good" - "No, this is an adjective. What's your name?". Go to the name of the person: who you are, what you do, what dreams you have, what your heart feels ... To the gossipers this does not interest; immediately seek a label to get rid of them. The culture of the adjective that discredits the person. Think about it, not to fall into this [attitude] that is so easily offered to us in society.
This attitude pollutes everything because it raises an invisible wall that suggests that by marginalizing, separating and isolating all problems will be magically resolved. And when a society or a community allows itself this, and it does nothing but whisper, gossip and murmur, it enters a vicious circle of divisions, reproaches and condemnations. It is interesting: these people who do not accept Jesus and what Jesus teaches us are people who are always fighting each other, condemning each other, among those who are called righteous. Moreover, it is an attitude of marginalization and exclusion, of opposition that makes us say irresponsibly as Caiaphas: "It is fitting that one man dies for the people, and the whole nation does not fall into ruin" (Jn 11: 5). Better that everyone is kept there, that they do not bother us, we want to live in peace. This is hard, and this has had to face Jesus, and this we too face today. Normally the thread breaks at the thinnest point: that of the poor and the defenseless. And they are the ones who suffer the most from these social condemnations, which do not allow them to get up again.
How it hurts to see a society that concentrates its energies on murmuring and disdaining rather than committing oneself, striving to create and opportunities and transformation!
The look of conversion: the other look
Instead, the whole Gospel is marked by this other gaze that is born no more or less than from the heart of God. God never abandons you. God does not abandon anyone. God tells you: "Come". God is waiting for you and hugs you, and if you do not know the way, he comes looking for you, as did the shepherd with the sheep. Instead, the other look refuses. The Lord wants to celebrate when he sees his children returning home (cf. Lk 15: 11-32). Thus he witnessed Jesus, manifesting to the extreme the merciful love of the Father. We have a Father. You said so: I liked your confession: we have a Father. I have a Father who loves me. It's a nice thing. A love, that of Jesus, who does not have time to murmur, but tries to break the circle of useless and indifferent, neutral and aseptic critique. "I thank you, Sir," said that doctor of the law, "because I am not like that." I'm not like that. These who think they have the soul purified ten times in an illusion of aseptic life that serves no purpose. Once I heard a farmer say something that struck me: "The cleanest water is it? Yes, distilled water - he said -. You know, father, that when I drink it, you do not know anything ". So it is the life of those who criticize and gossip and separate from others: they feel so clean, so aseptic that they know nothing, they are unable to invite someone, they live taking care of themselves, to get cosmetic surgery in the soul and not to reach out to others and help them grow. Which is what Jesus does, who accepts the complexity of life and every situation; the love of Jesus, the love of God, the love of God the Father - as you said - is a love that inaugurates a dynamic capable of inventing ways, offering opportunities for integration and transformation, opportunities for healing, forgiveness, of salvation. And eating with publicans and sinners, Jesus breaks the logic that separates, that excludes, that isolates, that divides falsely between "good and bad". And it does not do it by decree or just with good intentions, not even with voluntarism or sentimentality. How does Jesus do it? Creating bonds, bonds capable of allowing new processes; betting and celebrating with each step possible. This is why Jesus, when Matthew is converted - you will find him in the Gospel - does not tell him: "Well, okay, congratulations, come with me". No, he says to him: "Let's go and celebrate at home", and invite all his friends, who were, like Matteo, condemned by society, to celebrate. The gossip, the one who divides, does not know how to party because he has a bitter heart.