Pope: the choice between good, evil is one we all have to make
VATICAN— On Sunday Pope Francis said good and evil are often entwined, and that as sinners, we can’t label any one group or institution as bad, since we all face temptation and have the ability to choose which path to follow.
“The Lord, who is wisdom incarnate, today helps us to understand that good and evil cannot identify with definite territories or determined groups of people,” the Pope said July 23.
Jesus tells us that “the line between good and evil passes through the heart of every person. We are all sinners,” he said, and asked for anyone who is not a sinner to raise their hand – which no one did.
“We are all sinners!” he said, explaining that with his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ “has freed us from the slavery of sin and gives us the grace of walking in a new life.”
Pope Francis spoke to the crowd of pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, which this week focused on the day’s Gospel passage from Matthew, in which an enemy secretly plants weeds alongside the wheat in a master’s field.
The image, he said, shows us the good seed that is planted in the world by God, but also the bad seed planted by the devil in order to corrupt the good.
It not only speaks of the problem of evil, but also it also refers to God’s patience in the master, who allows the weeds to grow alongside the wheat, so that the harvest is not lost.
“With this image, Jesus tells us that in this world good and evil are totally entwined, that it’s impossible to separate them and weed out all the evil,” Pope Francis said, adding that “only God can do this, and he will do it in the final judgment.”
Instead, the parable represents “the field of the freedom of Christians,” who must make the difficult discernment between good and evil, choosing which one to follow.
This, the Pope said, involves trusting God and joining two seemingly contradictory attitudes: “decision and patience.”
Francis explained that “decision” in this case means “wanting to be good grain, with all of it’s strengths, and so to distance yourself from evil and it’s seductions.”
On the other hand, patience means “preferring a Church that is the leaven of the dough, which is not afraid to dirty her hands washing the feet of her children, rather than a Church of the ‘pure,’ which pretends to judge before it’s time who is in the Kingdom of God and who is not,” he said.
Both of these attitudes are necessary, he said, stressing that no one is perfect, but we are all sinners who have been redeemed by Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.
Thanks to our baptism, Jesus has also given us the Sacrament of Confession, “ because we always need to be forgiven for our sins,” Francis said, adding that “to always look at the evil that is outside of us means not wanting to recognize the sin that is also within us.”
Jesus also teaches us a different way of looking at the world and observing reality, he said. In reflecting on the parable, we are invited to learn God’s timing and to see with his eyes, rather than focusing on our own, narrow vision.
“Thanks to the beneficial influence of an anxious waiting, what were weeds or seemed like weeds, can become a product of good,” he said, adding that this is “the prospect of hope!”
Pope Francis closed his address praying that Mary would intercede in helping us to observe in the world around us “not only dirtiness and evil, but also the good and beautiful; to expose the work of Satan, but above all to trust in the action of God who renders history fruitful.”
After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, he voiced his sadness over “serious tensions and violence” in Jerusalem over the weekend, which have left seven people dead.
The deaths were the result of protests that were prompted by the placement of metal detectors at the entrance to the compound housing al-Aqsa mosque in the city, and have prompted world leaders to call for restraint on either side before the situation boils over.
Pope Francis invited pilgrims to join him in praying for a deescalation of the violence, and that “the Lord inspires in all proposals of reconciliation and peace.”