Bearing witness is to break a habit, said Pope Francis at the Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta, his residence, on November 8, 2018.
Jesus’ witnessing is “a novelty for this time,” the Holy Father noted, while meditating on today’s Gospel, because “going to sinners made one unclean, like touching a leper.”
“Bearing witness has never been comfortable in history, both for witnesses — they often pay with martyrdom — and for the powerful, he continued in his homily reported by “Vatican News” in Italian.
“To witness is to break a habit, a way of being . . . to break, to change . . . what attracts is the testimony, not only the words . . . And Jesus bears witness. It’s something new, but not so new, as God’s mercy was also in the Old Testament,” he affirmed. The Doctors of the Law never understood what was meant by “It is mercy that I want, and not sacrifices.” Although they read it, they didn’t understand what mercy was. By His way of acting, Jesus “proclaims this mercy through His testimony,” he added.
The “sin of murmuring is daily,” continued the Pontiff. We all practice it when “this or that doesn’t please us.” Instead of “trying to resolve a situation of conflict, we murmur in secret, always in a low voice, because we don’t have the courage to speak clearly,” he noted.
How much whispering goes on in parishes, he lamented. When a testimony is displeasing or a person is disliked, murmurs are unleashed — and in dioceses? “Intra-diocesan” struggles go on; there are internal struggles in dioceses, and also in politics, and it’s bad. “When a government is dishonest it seeks to smear its adversaries by whispering. Defamation and slander go on. Murmuring is “our daily bread, both personally as well as in the family,” the parish, the diocese, and society, he continued.
These murmurs are a “loophole for not looking at reality,” said Pope Francis. In the Gospel, following the parable of the lost sheep, the Pharisees’ reaction was to “calculate” that 99 remained, approaching the problem as “a balance sheet,” where there are always “profits and losses.”
“This is the Pharisees’ logic, diametrically opposed to that of Jesus, so they don’t speak to sinners, or mix with publicans. “Better not be dirtied by these people; it’s a risk. But Jesus enters in “casuistic logic,” leaving them in an erroneous position. They are “incapable of forgiving, of being merciful, of receiving,” stressed the Pope.
Bearing witness is provocative, concluded the Pontiff. It “makes the Church grow.” But to murmur is to guard one’s interior “so that the testimony doesn’t hurt me,” he added. “All who follow the path of the Doctors of the Law don’t know the joy of the Gospel,” he said.
“May the Lord help us to understand this logic, which is contrary to the logic of the world,” Pope Francis concluded.