“Those who show hospitality grow richer, not poorer”, the Pope has told the group of Finnish Lutherans he met today in an audience, urging them to go out to attend to “those who are shipwrecked in life”.

Driving the news

This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience an ecumenical delegation of the Lutheran Church in Finland on the occasion of the annual ecumenical pilgrimage in Rome to celebrate the feast of Saint Henrik, the country’s patron.

The following is the Pope’s address to those present:

Address of the Holy Father

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“I offer you a cordial welcome in the words of Saint Paul: ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom 1:7). I thank Bishop Teemu for his words, a beautiful invitation to mutual understanding in the midst of today’s many misunderstandings. Your ecumenical pilgrimage for the feast of Saint Henrik has once more brought you to Rome. Together you are journeying – as all of us are – in communion of faith, so as to encourage one another and to strengthen one another in Christian discipleship.

“This past Sunday, we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus and we recalled our own baptism. A Christian is someone who can give thanks for his or her baptism; and this gratitude unites us within the community of all the baptized.  The ‘baptism for the forgiveness of sins’ that we profess in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is also a clear summons to holiness.

“The Report of the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue group for Sweden and Finland, entitled Justification in the Life of the Church, rightly observes that ‘those who are already baptized can, together with their brothers and sisters, develop their opportunities for holiness, which come from their common justification in Christ. As members of one and the same mystical body of Christ, Christians are bound to one another and must bear one another’s burdens. Since Christ came to redeem the whole world, it is also a mission for the church and for individual Christians, both lay and ordained, to witness to the good news in the midst of their daily life’ (No. 203).

“Hospitality is likewise part of our shared witness of faith in daily life.

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins tomorrow, shows us this ecumenical virtue, and indeed recommends it to us. ‘They showed us unusual kindness’ (Acts 28:2) as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, with reference to the inhabitants of the island of Malta, who received with hospitality the Apostle Paul, together with hundreds of shipwrecked people.

“As baptized Christians, we believe that Christ wishes to meet us precisely in those who are – both literally and figuratively – shipwrecked in life.

“Those who show hospitality grow richer, not poorer. Whoever gives, receives in return. For the humanity we show to others makes us in a mysterious way partakers in the goodness of the God who became man.

“Dear Finnish friends, as heralds of humanity, as recipients of the goodness of God incarnate, we are journeying together in the community of all the baptized. Christians are those who can give thanks for their baptism. This gratitude links and expands our hearts, and opens them to our neighbour, who is not an adversary but our beloved brother, our beloved sister.

The community of all the baptized is not a mere ‘standing beside one another’, and certainly not a ‘standing against one other’, but wants to become an ever fuller ‘standing together’.

“Spiritual ecumenism and ecumenical dialogue serve to deepen this ‘standing together’. May this ‘standing together’ continue to grow, prosper and bear fruit in Finland. To that end, I pray that God may grant you his abundant grace and his blessing. I would ask you also to please pray for me. Thank you.

(Source: Vatican Press Office)

Go deeper

Meanwhile at Mass in his Casa Santa Marta residence this morning, Pope Francis delivered a homily based on Jesus’ miraculous healing of the paralytic in St. Mark’s Gospel. Unable to approach Jesus in the packed house in Capernaum, the four men lowered the paralytic on a mat from the roof.  

The Pope drew attention to the first words of Jesus: “Your sins are forgiven”. Jesus later orders him to get up, take up his mat and go home. Jesus, a man of God, the Pope said, heals but He is not a medicine man. He teaches but is more than a teacher and in this episode, He focuses on what is essential.

The Pope said that physical health is a gift that we must preserve but the Lord teaches us that we must also preserve the health of the heart, spiritual health.  

The Holy Father picked out other instances where Jesus focuses on the essential. In the episode of the sinful and weeping woman, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven”. But those present are scandalized, the Pope said, because there is prophecy, there is strength.

In the same way, to the sick man who never got to the pool on time to be healed, Jesus says, “Do not sin anymore”.

Fear of encounter with the Lord

To the Samaritan woman who asks so many questions, Jesus goes to what is essential in life. The Pope said that “relationship with God is essential”.

“We often forget this as if afraid of an encounter with the Lord, with God”.

He said we do a lot for our physical health, we advise ourselves regarding doctors and medicines, which is good, the Pope said, “but do we think about the health of the heart?”

The words of Jesus to the paralytic, the Pope said, can help us in this. Jesus tells him, “Child, your sins are forgiven”. The Pope noted that we get so used to this medicine of forgiveness of our sins, mistakes and anything that it gets watered down and loses the strength and the power of prophecy of Jesus when He focusses on the essential.

And today Jesus tells each one of us: “I want to forgive your sins”.

Medicine of forgiveness

The Pope further pointed out that perhaps someone may not find sins to confess because “there is a lack of awareness of sins”.

The medicine needed to be healed from “concrete sins”, “diseases of the soul”, the Pope said, is forgiveness.

It is simple when Jesus goes to the essentials, the Pope said. The health of both body and soul is essential. Watching over our body and the soul, he said, we go to that Doctor who can heal us, who can forgive our sins. He is Jesus who came for this and gave His life for this, the Pope said.

(Source: Robin Gomes, Vatican News)

Next on Novena:

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to denounce “cold forces of indifference” towards migrants and refugees

Francis: “Jesus didn’t come to preach the law and then leave. He came in compassion”

Pope desires Church to be “house open to all hearts in search”

Pope laments “much harm” done by “incoherent and schizophrenic” pastors

Francis: “The good disciple is the humble one, the meek one, the one who does good without making a show”

Francis encourages faithful: “Dirty your hands in works of love”


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.