"No pit is so deep that his love is not deeper still." - Betsy Ten Boom
I love what the Holy Father said in his homilies and at the Angelus yesterday. It reminds me of so many sayings of the saints when speaking of the tender mercies of Our Lord. I have experienced it myself - that 'deep calling unto deep' - how Christ meets us in the very depths of our misery. It is the mystery of the falls he experienced along the road to Calvary. I have sensed it within my soul. When I have fallen into the depths and mire of the worst sin - at times there was a sense in my soul that Jesus was there, that he looked at me with love. As if he was waiting for me. Though fallen and trampled in the dust under the weight of the cross, his teeth filled with gravel, he looked at me in my fallen state, and his look touched my soul ... He was there already, sharing my shame.
It seems to me this is the message Pope Francis is conveying - even though some may reject it - and while he himself is denounced and shut out, much in the same way as Francis of Assisi represented in his parable of Perfect Joy. It seems clear to me the Holy Father rejoices in this 'outcast state' - sharing in the cross of Christ, despising its shame, much as St. Paul wrote to the Hebrews ...
Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood.
Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore. - Hebrews 13:13
It seems to me this is what the Holy Father is teaching. I want to excerpt a couple of things from his allocution yesterday to document and hopefully keep in mind.
“God's mercy overcomes every barrier, and Jesus' hand touches the leper. He does not keep a safe distance and does not act by proxy, but rather He directly exposes Himself to contagion by our malady; and it is precisely our malady that becomes the locus of contact: He, Jesus, takes our ailing humanity from us and we take His healthy, restorative humanity from Him. This happens every time that we receive a Sacrament with faith: the Lord Jesus 'touches' us and gives us His grace. In his case, we think especially of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which cures us from the leprosy of sin”.
“Once again the Gospel shows us what God does when faced with our sickness: God does not come to 'give a lecture' on pain; neither does He come to eliminate suffering and death from the world; rather, He comes to take upon Himself the burden of our human condition, to bear it unto the end, to free us in a radical and definitive way. Thus Christ vanquishes the ills and sufferings of the world: by taking them upon Himself and defeating them with the strength of God's mercy”.
Today, the Gospel passage of the healing of the leper tells us that if we wish to be “true disciples of Christ, we are required to become, joined with Him, instruments of His merciful love, setting aside every type of marginalisation. To be 'imitators of Christ' before the poor or sick, we must not be afraid to look them in the eye and to draw closer with tenderness and compassion, to touch and embrace them”, explained the Pope, adding that he often asks those who help others to do so “looking them in the eye, without being afraid to touch them, so that the gesture of aid may also be a gesture of communication”.
“We too need to be accepted by them”, he continued, “A gesture of tenderness, a gesture of compassion. … If evil is contagious, so is good. Therefore, good must increasingly abound in us. Let us be 'infected' by good, and spread good to others!”. - Angelus: Good is contagious.
"...it is precisely our malady that becomes the locus of contact."