Pope Francis on Thursday said that those who form private, exclusive groups mimic the attitude of the Pharisees, leading to conflict and division, whereas true Christians open the doors — with prudence — to everyone. “There are two paths in life: the path of exclusion of persons from our community and the path of inclusion,” the Pope said Nov. 5 at daily Mass in the chapel of Vatican City’s St. Martha Guesthouse. While the path of exclusion might be small, it is “the root of all wars: all calamities, all wars, begin with an exclusion. One is excluded from the international community, but also from families, from friends. How many fights there are!” On the other hand, the path that brings us closer to Jesus “is quite another, it is contrary to the other: to include.” Speaking before the congregation in the chapel, the Pope’s homily condemned those who judge and despise others and exclude them from “our little group.” To be selective like this “is not Christian,” he said. He cited the day’s first scripture reading from Romans in which St. Paul chastises those who look down on others. The attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees in the day’s Gospel, taken from Luke, “is the same, they exclude,” believing themselves to be perfect for adhering to the law, while judging others they deem to be sinners. With his sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus includes everyone in salvation, Pope Francis said. The Pope admitted that at times it’s hard to include others, because “there is that selective attitude” of resistance. Pope Francis then focused on two parables Jesus tells in the Gospels: the parable of the lost sheep and that of the woman who lost her coin. Both the shepherd and the woman would do anything to regain what they lost, and are filled with joy when they find it. Instead of keeping their happiness to themselves, the central figures in each parable “go to their neighbors, their friends, because they are so happy,” the Pope said. He described this as “the ‘including’ of God.” God’s inclusion of others goes directly against “the exclusion of those who judge, who drive away people.” When this happens “a little of circle of friends is created, which is their environment,” the Pope observed. “It is a dialectic between exclusion and inclusion.” Pope Francis also stressed the need to recognize that we ourselves are guilty of exclusion: “We with our weaknesses, with our sins, with our envy, jealousies, we all have this attitude of excluding which — as I said — can end in wars.” Those who continue to live with a selective and judgmental attitude instead of imitating God’s attitude of welcome will one day have to answer for it, he continued. “If I exclude, I will one day stand before the judgment seat of God, I will have to give an account of myself to God,” the Pope said. He encouraged the congregation to make their best effort not to exclude anyone from their heart, prayer or greeting. “Never excluding, we have no right!” he said, and concluded by praying for the grace to be men and women with open hearts, who always, “in the measure of healthy prudence,” seek to include and incorporate others.
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