Every human person despite his or her beliefs can do good, and a sharing in good works is the prime place for encounter among those who disagree, Pope Francis said at his Mass today.
“The Lord created us in his image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and he does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and avoid evil. All of us,” the Pope taught in his homily May 22 at St. Martha's residence in the Vatican.
“We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, and attended by employees of the Vatican's governorate, or executive branch.
During his homily, the Bishop of Rome reflected on Christ's response to his disciples, who thought that anyone outside their group could not do good.
“If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” This viewpoint, Pope Francis said, “was wrong...Jesus broadens the horizon.”
He went on to explain that all human persons are created in the image of God, who is goodness himself and the source of goodness.
“But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.' Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him.”
The pontiff called this view, that only Catholics can do good, an intolerance and a “closing off” that can lead to war and blasphemy. Blasphemy, he explained, includes “killing in the name of God.”
He emphasized the universality of Christ's saving act on the cross as a compliment to the universal call to holiness, regardless of religious belief.
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone.”
“Even the atheists. Everyone,” Pope Francis stressed.
He said that the saving blood of Christ “makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good.”
The Pope said that because to do good is inscribed on the human heart and does not derive from creeds, “it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness. And he does good, always.”
Similarly, doing good “is a duty” for all people. The universal commandment to do good, he said, “is a beautiful path towards peace.”
“If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much.”
Noting the memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia, he concluded saying, “let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work.”