Being honest about our sin 'opens us to the Lord's caress'

Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St Peters Square before the Wednesday general audience on October 2 2013 Credit Elise Harris CNA 15 CNA 10 2 13 Pope Francis greets pilgrims during the Wednesday General Audience on Oct. 2, 2013. | Marianne Medlin/CNA.

At daily Mass, Pope Francis drew from the Gospel reading of the woman who washed Christ's feet with her tears – noting God's tender response to those who have the humility to acknowledge their sin.

"...the ability to acknowledge our own sins, to acknowledge our misery, to acknowledge what we are and what we are capable of doing or have done is the very door that opens us to the Lord's caress, His forgiveness," the Pope said during his homily the morning of Sept. 18.

He reflected on the Gospel passage from the seventh chapter of Luke, recalling how Jesus was visiting the house of a prominent Pharisee – "a person of a certain level of culture."

Although the Pharisee "wanted to listen to Jesus" on an intellectual level, he is baffled by the contrite woman who approaches Christ and washes his feet with her tears.

"He cannot understand the simple gesture: the simple gestures of the people. Perhaps this man had forgotten how to caress a baby, how to console a grandmother."

"In his theories, his thoughts, his life of government – because perhaps he was a councilor of the Pharisees – he had forgotten the simple gestures of life, the very first things that we all, as newborns, received from our parents."

The Pharisee "is not a bad man," Pope Francis emphasized, but he simply "cannot understand the woman's actions."

Far from shaming the Pharisee, however, Jesus responds to him "with humility and tenderness," as  "his patience, his love, the desire to save everyone" compels him to explain the woman's action.

Amid the surprise of the surrounding guests, Christ says to the woman: "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace, your faith has saved you!"

"He only says the word salvation – 'Your faith has saved you' – to the woman, who is a sinner. And he says it because she was able to weep for her sins, to confess her sins, to say 'I am a sinner,' and admit it to herself."

"He doesn't say the same to those people, who were not bad people: they simply did not believe themselves to be sinners. Other people were sinners: the tax collectors, prostitutes ... These were the sinners," Pope Francis said.

"Jesus says this word – 'You are saved, you are safe – only to those who open their hearts and acknowledge that they are sinners," he emphasized.

"Salvation only enters our hearts when we open them to the truth of our sins."

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