By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are called to follow Jesus’ path of inclusion and "do not have the right to exclude" or drive away those who they deem unworthy of salvation, Pope Francis said at his early morning Mass.
In his homily Nov. 5 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope said that like the Pharisees and scribes depicted in the Gospels, people are often tempted to be selective and form their own "little group," an attitude "that is not Christian."
The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading (Lk 15:1-10) in which the Pharisees criticize Jesus for welcoming sinners and eating with them.
"The attitude of the scribes, the Pharisees is the same, they exclude: ‘We are the perfect ones, we follow the law. These are the sinners, they are publicans,’" he said. "And Jesus’ attitude is to include."
"God has included everyone in salvation, everyone! This is the beginning. With our weaknesses, with our sins, with our envy, jealousy, we always have this attitude of exclusion" that is "the root of all wars" and divides families, friends and countries from one another.
However, the path taught by Christ is "completely different" and not easy for people to accept "because there is a resistance, there is that selective attitude."
Jesus, he continued, "looks for us to include us" and that Christians are called to follow his example and not exclude people "from my heart, from my prayers, from my greeting, from my smile and, if the opportunity comes — a nice word.
"Never exclude, we do not have the right!" the pope said.
The first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he said, is a reminder that those who exclude will one day stand in front of "the judgment seat of God" and give an account of their deeds.
"Let us ask for the grace of being men and women who always include — in the measure of healthy prudence — but always. Do not close the door to anyone; always have an open heart," the pope said.