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Mercy purifies the heart (cf Lk 5, 12-16)

Catechesis by Pope Francis in the Jubilee of Mercy
General Audience, Wednesday 22 June 2016, St Peter's Square - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
“Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” (Lk 5:12) is the request that we heard addressed to Jesus by a leper. This man did not ask only to be healed, but to be “made clean”, that is, wholly restored, in body and in heart. Indeed, leprosy was considered a form of a curse of God, of profound uncleanliness. A leper had to stay away from everyone; he could not access the temple nor any divine service. Far from God and far from men. These people lived a sad life!

Despite this fact, that leper did not resign himself to the disease nor to the dispositions that made him an excluded man. In order to reach Jesus, he was not afraid to break the law and enter the city — something he should not have done, it was prohibited — and when he found Jesus, the man “fell on his face and besought him, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean’” (v. 12). All that is done and said by this man, who was considered unclean, is an expression of his faith! He recognizes Jesus’ power: he is certain that Jesus has the power to heal him and that all depends on His will. This faith is the force that allows him to break every convention and seek the encounter with Jesus and, kneeling before Him, he calls Him “Lord”. The supplication of the leper demonstrates that when we present ourselves to Jesus it is not necessary to make long speeches. A few words are enough, provided that they are accompanied by complete trust in his omnipotence and in his goodness. Entrusting ourselves to God’s will in fact means remitting ourselves to his infinite mercy. I will even share with you a personal confidence. In the evening, before going to bed, I say this short prayer: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean!”. And I pray five “Our Fathers”, one for each of Jesus’ wounds, because Jesus has cleansed us with his wounds. If I do this, you can do it too, in your home, and say: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean!”, and think about Jesus’ wounds and say an “Our Father” for each of them. Jesus always hears us.

Jesus is deeply struck by this man. The Gospel of Mark emphasizes that “moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I will; be clean’” (1:41). Jesus’ gesture accompanies his words and renders the teaching more explicit. Contrary to the dispositions of the Law of Moses, which prohibited a leper from drawing near (cf. Lev 13:45-46), Jesus extends his hand and even touches him. How often do we encounter a poor person who comes to meet us! We can also be generous, we can have compassion, but usually we do not touch him. We offer him coins, we toss them there, but we avoid touching his hand. And we forget that that person is the Body of Christ! Jesus teaches us not to be afraid to touch the poor and the excluded, because He is in them. Touching the poor can cleanse us from hypocrisy and make us distressed over their condition. Touching the excluded. Today these young people accompany me. So many people think that it would be better if they stayed in their land, but they suffer so much there. They are our refugees, but so many consider them excluded. Please, they are our brothers! A Christian excludes no one, gives a place to everyone, allows everyone to come.

After healing the leper, Jesus commands him not to speak of this to anyone, but tells him: “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people” (Lk 5:14). This disposition of Jesus demonstrates at least three things. First: the grace that acts in us does not seek sensationalism. Usually it is moved with discretion and without clamour. To treat our wounds and guide us on the path of holiness it works by patiently modelling our heart on the Heart of the Lord, so as to increasingly assume his thoughts and feelings. Second: by making the priest officially verify the healing and by celebrating an expiatory sacrifice, the leper is readmitted to the community of believers and to social life. His reintegration completes the healing. As he himself had supplicated, now he is completely made clean. Lastly, by presenting himself to the priests, the leper bears witness to them regarding Jesus and his messianic authority. The power of compassion with which Jesus healed the leper led this man’s faith to open itself to the mission. He was excluded, now he is one of us.

Let us consider ourselves, our miseries.... Each has his own. Let us think sincerely. How often we cover them with the hypocrisy of “good manners”. And precisely then it is necessary to be alone, to kneel before God and pray: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean!”. Do it, do it before going to bed, every evening. Now together let us say this beautiful prayer: “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean!”."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les personnes engagées dans la société civile, accompagnées de Monseigneur Dominique Rey.
De même que Jésus a touché le lépreux pour le guérir, osons toucher les personnes pauvres que nous voulons aider. Ce geste de charité nous guérit de l’hypocrisie et nous remet une multitude de péchés. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Scotland, Sweden, China and the United States of America. In a special way I greet the many student groups present. With prayerful good wishes that the present Jubilee of Mercy will be a moment of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an alle Pilger deutscher Sprache. Der Monat Juni ist der Verehrung des Heiligsten Herzens Jesu gewidmet. Das Bewusstsein des Mitleidens Jesu mit uns entzünde in uns von neuem einen frohen und missionarischen Glauben. Gott segne euch alle.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Que movidos por la humildad y la confianza de la petición del leproso, nos sintamos todos necesitados de la sanación del Señor, y aprendamos a acercarnos al pobre y al excluido reconociendo en ellos al mismo Cristo. Muchas gracias.

Queridos amigos de língua portuguesa, que hoje tomais parte neste Encontro, obrigado pela vossa presença e sobretudo pelas vossas orações! A todos saúdo, especialmente aos membros da Comunidade brasileira Doce Mãe de Deus e ao grupo de Escuteiros de Leiria, encorajando-vos a apostar em ideais grandes de serviço, que engrandecem o coração e tornam fecundos os vossos talentos. Sobre vós e vossas famílias desça a Bênção do Senhor!

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ منالشرق الأوسط. أيها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزاء، إن الشيء الوحيد الذي نحتاج إليه حقًا في هذه الحياة هو أن يُغفر لنا، وأن نتحرَّر من الشر ومن تبعاته المميتة. ليمنحنا الرب، بشفاعة العذراء مريم، أن نكون شهودًا لرحمته، التي تنقي القلب وتغيّر الحياة. ليبارككُم الرب!

Witam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Bracia i siostry, sytuacja trędowatego, o którym dzisiaj mowa, jego prośba o uzdrowienie, przypomina nam nasze wołanie do Boga o uwolnienie z grzechów, zaniedbań i poczucia winy. Pamiętajmy, że Bóg nas nigdy nie opuszcza, przeciwnie, wychodzi nam na spotkanie, uzdrawia, rozgrzesza i przebacza. Z tą świadomością, ufni w Jego miłosierdzie, przekraczajmy Świętą Bramę Roku Jubileuszowego. Nich będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.

* * *

Un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana!

Con gioia accolgo i fedeli delle Diocesi di Alba e Alghero-Bosa, accompagnati dai loro Pastori, Mons. Brunetti e Mons. Morfino; i motociclisti venuti per il Giubileo, con il Vescovo di Città di Castello, Mons. Domenico Cancian; i medici e i volontari del Policlinico “Gemelli” aderenti all’iniziativa “Dona la vita con il cuore”, e li ringrazio per le visite cardiologiche gratuite agli indigenti attraverso l’ambulatorio mobile. Nello stesso Ospedale giovedì scorso è stata inaugurata la “Villetta della misericordia”, dormitorio per persone senza fissa dimora, gestita dalla comunità di Sant’Egidio, opera concreta di questo Giubileo straordinario. Grazie tante!

Saluto con affetto i protagonisti della Giostra del Saracino di Arezzo, quest’anno dedicata al tema della Misericordia, ed esprimo a voi vivo apprezzamento per l’impegno di rievocare vicende storiche, diffondendo un messaggio di pace, di dialogo e di confronto tra culture nel nome di San Francesco. Grazie! Saluto la fondazione UALSI di Sant’Anastasia; e i membri della Società di mutuo soccorso Cesare Pozzo. Possa questo incontro col Successore di Pietro essere di incoraggiamento nel vostro cammino di fede e di testimonianza evangelica.

Lastly, I address a special greeting to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. Dear young people, Jesus calls you to be “ardent hearts”: correspond with generosity to his invitation each according to your own talent; dear sick people, offer your suffering to Christ crucified so as to cooperate in the redemption of the world; and you, dear newlyweds, be cognizant of the irreplaceable mission to which the sacrament of marriage commits you."