Francis: No one is ever thrown away or discarded by God

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Aug. 31. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Aug. 31. (CNS/Paul Haring)

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Whenever we feel that we have erred or sinned in unforgivable ways Jesus always reaches out to pardon and embrace us, Pope Francis said in his weekly audience Wednesday.

"The Lord tells us: 'Courage! Come! For me you are not thrown away,'" the pontiff told crowds in St. Peter's Square.

"Today, to all of us sinners … the Lord tells us: 'Courage, come! I forgive you, I embrace you,'" the pope emphasized, explaining: "This is the mercy of God."

Francis was reflecting in his audience Wednesday on the story in Matthew's Gospel of a woman suffering from a hemorrhage who reaches out to touch Jesus' cloak and is healed of her affliction.

"How much faith this woman had!" exclaimed the pontiff. "She thought this way because she was animated by so much faith, so much hope, and with a stroke of cunning realized what was in her heart."

"The desire to be saved is so that it goes beyond the established prescriptions of the Mosaic law," said the pope. "This poor woman was not just sick for so many years, but was held to be impure because she was affected by a hemorrhage. And she was therefore excluded from the liturgy, from conjugal life, from a normal relationship with her neighbors."

"She was a woman who was thrown away by society," he continued. "It is important to consider this condition -- of being thrown away -- to understand her state of mind: she feels that Jesus can save her from sickness and from the state of marginalization and unworthiness in which she has been for years. In a word: she knows, feels that Jesus can save her."

"Jesus admired the faith of this woman that everyone avoided and transformed her hope into salvation," said Francis.

"We do not know her name, but the few lines in which the Gospel describes her encounter with Jesus give an itinerary of faith capable of restoring the truth and the greatness of the dignity of every person," he continued. "In the encounter with Christ the path of liberation and salvation are opened for men and women of every place and time."

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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