VATICAN CITY – God shows the greatest love and compassion for the greatest sinners, Pope Francis said.
The Lord “has come precisely for us sinners and the greater the sinner you are, the closer the Lord is to you because he has come for you, the greatest sinner; for me, the greatest sinner; for all of us,” the pope said in his homily January 16 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark, in which Jesus’ takes pity on and heals a leper who kneeled before him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
In saying “if you wish,” the pope explained, the leper “attracts God’s attention” and makes an “act of faith” because he saw that Jesus acted with compassion toward those who suffer.
“This was Jesus’ mission,” the pope said. “Jesus did not come to preach the law and then go away. Jesus came with compassion, that is, to suffer with and for us and to give his life. The love of Jesus is so great that compassion brought him to the cross, to give his life.”
Pope Francis said that Christians should pray to God like the leper did — by acknowledging their sinfulness and asking for mercy.
It is “a simple prayer that can be said many times a day. ‘Lord, I, a sinner, ask you: have mercy on me.’ It can be said many times a day, from the heart, without saying it aloud: ‘Lord, if you want, you can; if you want, you can. Have mercy on me.’ Repeat this,” the pope said.