Jesus implores us not to blame God for misfortunes and points us instead to conversion as a solution to evils which oppress us, Pope Francis said Sunday.
“We must be careful: When evil oppresses us, we risk losing our clarity and, to find an easy answer to what we are unable to explain, we end up putting the blame on God,” Pope Francis said to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his March 20 Angelus address. “And so often the very bad habit of using profanities comes from this.”
“How often we attribute to Him our woes and misfortunes in the world, to Him who instead leaves us always free and hence never intervenes imposing, but only proposing; He who never uses violence and instead suffers for us and with us,” he said.
Pope Francis’s comments included reflections on Sunday’s reading from the thirteenth Chapter in the Gospel of Luke.
In that reading, the pontiff said, Jesus “refuses and contests strongly the idea of blaming God for our evils: Those persons who were killed by Pilate and those who died when the tower collapsed on them were not any more at fault than others, and they were not victims of a ruthless and vindictive God, which does not exist!”
When bad things happen to us, we should not blame God, he said. Jesus tells us “we need to look inside ourselves,” he added. “It is sin that produces death; our selfishness can tear apart relationships; our wrong and violent choices can unleash evil.”
The Lord offers a “true solution,” Pope Francis said, which is “conversion.” Citing the Gospel reading, he said, “If you are not converted, [Jesus] says, you will all perish in the same way.”
God can never be the source of evil, he said, because, citing Psalm 103, God does not treat us according to our sins, but according to his mercy.
Mercy is God’s “style,” Pope Francis said. “He can’t treat us otherwise. He always treats us with mercy.”
Pope Francis offered an invitation to “turn from evil,” to “renounce the sin that seduces us,” and to “open” ourselves to the “logic of the Gospel.”
Where “love and fraternity reign, evil has no more power,” he said.
Pope Francis said that converting is not easy and Jesus knows this. Jesus wants to help in this conversion, he added.
Jesus knows that, oftentimes, “people repeat the same mistakes and the same sins,” and that can bring discouragement,” Pope Francis said.
“Sometimes our commitment to do good can seem useless in a world where evil seems to rule,” he added.
But Jesus encourages us by telling a parable that shows God’s patience, he said. Jesus “offers the consoling image of [a] fig tree that does not bear fruit during the accorded season, but it is not cut down. Jesus “gives it more time, another possibility,” the pope observed.
Pope Francis told the crowd that he enjoys “thinking that a nice name for God could be ‘the God of another possibility’: God always gives us another opportunity, always, always.”
God does not “cut us out of his love” nor does he “lose heart or tire of offering us again His trust with tenderness,” he said. “God believes in us! God trusts us and accompanies us with patience, the patience of God with us. He does not get discouraged, but always instills hope in us.”
Pope Francis said that “God is Father” and “looks after you like a father,” while noting that God does not look at the “achievements you have not yet reached” but rather “encourages your potential.”
“He does not dwell on your past, but confidently bets on your future,” he said. “This is because God is close to us.”