Pope Francis writes,“This is the struggle of Christians. It is our struggle every day. And we do not always have the courage to speak as Paul spoke about this struggle. We always seek a way of justification: ‘But yes, we are all sinners.’ But we say it like that, don’t we? This says it dramatically: it is our struggle. And if we don’t recognize this, we will never be able to have God’s forgiveness. Because if being a sinner is a word, a way of speaking, a manner of speaking, we have no need of God’s forgiveness. But if it is a reality that makes us slaves, we need this interior liberation of the Lord, of that force. But more important here is that, to find the way out, Paul confesses his sin to the community, his tendency to sin. He doesn’t hide it.”
In a recent article interview Pope Francis gave, he was ask asked, “who are you?” Pope Francis answered, “I am sinner whom God has looked upon with mercy.” Pope Francis knows the mercy of God, because he knows that he is a sinner who has received mercy. One of the reasons that Francis has so much inner freedom is because he knows that he is loved and forgiven by God. Francis believes much more in God’s Love than he does in his sins.
One of Pope Francis favorites saints is St Therese. When he went to Rome as a Cardinal, he would always go to this particular church each morning and kneel down before a statue of St Therese the little flower. I believe it is at the feet of St Therese that Pope Francis has learned the message of God’s Mercy. St Therese said,”even if I had all the sins of the world on my soul I would not fear. I would simply throw myself into the fire of God’s Love.” We read this quote from St Therese in the Catechism, “After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone…In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.”(2011)
Pope Francis truly follows the Little Way of St Therese.