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Pope Francis: ‘True Christians will do whatever it takes to save people from sin’

Pope Francis (CNS)

True Christians aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty and will do whatever it takes to save everyone from sin, Pope Francis has said in a morning homily.

“A true priest, a true Christian, have this zeal inside that no one should be lost. And for this reason they aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty. They’re not afraid,” he said during his morning Mass today in the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives.

According to Vatican Radio, he said: “They go where they must, they risk their life, risk their reputation, risk losing their comforts, their social status, even losing their ecclesiastical career, too. But they are a good pastor, and Christians must be this way, too.”

The Pope’s homily focused on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Luke (15:1-10), in which Jesus explains to the scandalised Pharisees and scribes why he welcomes and eats with sinners.

“It was a real scandal back then” for anyone to associate with such sinners, the Pope said. “Imagine if there had been newspapers back then!” he added, implying there would have been many shocking headlines.

But with his parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, Jesus explains why he came: “To go and search for those who were distanced from the Lord,” Pope Francis said.

“God is not a businessman,” who is making sure any effort brings in high returns; “God is a father and he goes all out, all the way to save” even just one person, the Pope added, “This is God’s love.”

“He doesn’t stop halfway on the path of salvation, as if to say, ‘I did everything. It’s their problem.’ He always goes, he heads out, he comes down.”

He said that the scribes and Pharisees, on the other hand, “go halfway. They care about having the balance sheet of profits and losses be more or less in their favour,” so the thought of losing a few sheep doesn’t bother them in the least as long as they can say “I earned a lot” in the end.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has told Catholic leaders in Malawi that in order to build their nation they must focus on the families of their faithful.

“It is in the family, with its unique capacity to form each member, particularly the young, into persons of love, sacrifice, commitment and fidelity, that the Church and society in Malawi will find the resources necessary to renew and build up a culture of solidarity,” the Pope said.

The Pope handed his message to the bishops earlier today after meeting each of them during their “ad limina” visit to the Vatican, which bishops make periodically to report on the status of their dioceses. While Malawi faces huge economic and development problems, the Pope said, its people hold fast to their commitment to family life.

The Church must help them continue in that commitment, keeping Catholic families’ needs, experiences and daily realty in mind as it designs pastoral programs and evangelization efforts, the pope said.

“There is no aspect of family life — childhood and youth; friendship, engagement and marriage; spousal intimacy, fidelity and love; interpersonal relations and support — which is excluded from the healing and strengthening touch of God’s love, communicated through the Gospels and taught by the Church,” he said.