During the homily at Mass on Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis says that Jesus is close to us, “His compassion will take upon itself our problems, our sins, our interior diseases.”
The day’s Gospel tells how a leper approached Jesus, saying “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” In his homily, Pope Francis said that the leper’s request is a simple prayer, “an act of confidence” — but at the same time, “a true challenge.” It is a plea that comes from the depths of his heart, which also reveals something about Jesus and His compassion for us. Jesus, the Pope said, suffers “with and for us,” He takes the suffering of others upon Himself, comforting them and healing them in the name the love of the Father.
A true challenge
Reflecting on the “simple” story of the healing of the leper, Pope Francis said that the phrase, “If you will…” is a prayer that “gets God’s attention.” “It is a challenge,” he said, “but also an act of confidence: I know that He can do it, and so I entrust myself to Him.”
The leper was able to make this prayer, Pope Francis said, “because he saw how Jesus acted. This man had seen the compassion of Jesus.” Compassion, not pity, is a “refrain in the Gospel” — a common theme seen in the story of the widow of Nain, and in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son:
“Compassion gets involved, it comes from the heart and gets involved, and it leads you to do something. Compassion is ‘suffering with,’ taking the suffering of the other person upon yourself in order to resolve it, to heal it. And this was the mission of Jesus. Jesus did not come to preach the law and then leave. Jesus came in compassion, that is, to suffer with and for us and to give us life itself. The love of Jesus is so great that compassion led Him precisely to the Cross, to give His life,” he said.
Jesus does not wash His hands, but stands beside us
The Pope invited us to repeat “this little phrase” often. Because Jesus has compassion, the Pope explained, “He is capable of involving Himself in our sorrows, in the problems of others.” Jesus, he said, did not come simply to give a few sermons and then return to heaven; not to wash His hands. He came to be close to us, and He remains always at our side.
Pope Francis explained how this expression can be turned into a prayer that we can use every day:
“‘Lord, if you will, you can heal me; if you will, you can forgive me; if you will, you can help me.’ Or, if you want, [you can make it] a little longer: ‘Lord, I am a sinner, have mercy on me, have compassion on me.’ A simple prayer that can be said many times a day. ‘Lord, I, a sinner, ask you: have mercy on me.’ Many times a day, inwardly, from the heart, without saying it out loud: ‘Lord, if you will, you can; if you will, you can. Have compassion on me.’ Repeat this,” he said.
A miraculous prayer
The leper, with his simple and “miraculous” prayer, was able to obtain healing thanks to the compassion of Jesus, who loves us despite our sinfulness.
“He is not ashamed of us. ‘O Father, I am a sinner, how can I say this?…’ [This is] better! For He came precisely for us sinners, and the greater a sinner you are, the closer the Lord is to you, for He has come for you, the greatest sinner; for me, the greatest sinner; for all of us. Let us make a habit of repeating this prayer, always: ‘Lord, if you will it, you can do it. If you will it, you can do it,” with confidence that the Lord is close to us; and with His compassion, He will take upon Himself our problems, our sins, our inner diseases, everything,” the Pope said.
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.