Pope Francis: Have the Humility of the Poor in Heart

Recalls parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector at today's weekly general audience.

Pope Francis continued his catechesis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy today, stressing that true prayer is born of “a heart which repents of its faults and failings, yet pleads for the grace to live the great commandment of love of God and neighbor.” 

The Holy Father was referring to the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in which Jesus contrasts the arrogance and self-righteousness of the Pharisee’s prayer with the tax collector’s humble recognition of his sinfulness and need for the Lord’s mercy.

The Pope recalled that the Pharisee despised people commonly seen as “impure,” sinners such as the tax collector, but God “loves all men and does not despise sinners.”

“It is not enough then, to ask ourselves how much we pray; we must also ask ourselves how we pray,” he added, saying it’s important to examine our hearts and “eradicate arrogance and hypocrisy.” He also said it is important “to find the way back to our hearts” and to “rediscover the value of intimacy and silence” amid the frenetic pace of daily life because “it is there that God meets us and speaks to us.” 

The Pharisee, although he makes his way confidently towards the temple, is unaware of “having lost the way towards his heart,” the Pope said. The tax collector, on the other hand, comes to the temple “humble and repentant” and was even afraid to raise his eyes to heaven, noted the Pope. His was a “beautiful prayer,” the Pope said, inviting the faithful to recite it with him three times: ‘Lord, have pity on me for I am a sinner.”

The parable, he stressed, shows us that being righteous or sinners is not a question of social standing but of how we act towards God and others. Arrogance, the Pope concluded, “compromises every good action” and empties prayer of meaning. It will keep our prayers from reaching God, he said, but the humility of the poor in heart will throw open the doors to His mercy.

Here is today’s English language summary of today’s weekly general audience,

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now turn to the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14). Jesus contrasts the arrogance and self-righteousness of the Pharisee’s prayer with the tax collector’s humble recognition of his sinfulness and need for the Lord’s mercy. True prayer is born of a heart which repents of its faults and failings, yet pleads for the grace to live the great commandment of love of God and neighbour. Indeed, the proud disdain of the Pharisee for the sinner at his side prevents him from being righteous in God’s sight. To pray well, then, we need to look into our own hearts and there, in humble silence, let the Lord speak to us. The honesty and humility which God asks of us is the necessary condition for our receiving his mercy. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the model of such prayer. In her Magnificat, she tells us that God looks with favour on the humility of his servants, and hears their plea. May she, our Mother, help us to pray as we ought.

Also at the audience today, the Pope recalled that Friday, 3 June, the Church celebrates the Solemnity  of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which he said this year “is enriched by the Jubilee for Priests.” Vatican Radio has a full report here.

The Jubilee for Priests falls on the 160° anniversary of the institution of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, introduced in 1856 by Pope Pius IX.

To celebrate their Jubilee in Rome, on Wednesday clergy and seminarians from around the world began the first of three days of prayer and reflection 1-3 June with pilgrimages to the Jubilee churches: S. Salvatore in Lauro, S. Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) and S. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini.

The Holy See Press Office has said that some 6,000 priests and seminarians “are already present for this Jubilee” in Rome. Tomorrow, Pope Francis will offer three meditations in three Rome basilicas on the theme of “the Good Shepherd: the priest as a minister of mercy and compassion, close to his people and servant of all.”

EWTN in conjunction with Vatican television will broadcast the event.

A selection of pilgrims from today's audience tell their stories and give their reflections:


Mg. Analía Stasi from the Universidad de Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina

We are here as members of the Garrahan Foundation. The Garrahan Hospital is a very large pediatric hospital in Buenos Aires and the best one in Argentina. We’re coming to see the Pope and to give a present from the foundation made from recycled plastic which we use as a social responsibility program. The foundation is also helping to develop houses for mothers whose children are in hospital. So we are here to give the Pope support and we’re asking for his support.


Phuang Vu, from California, originally from Vietnam.

We’re here on a pilgrimage to see the Pope and St. Peter’s. The Pope is beautiful, a very, very good man.


Father Alfred Bauer, from Würzburg, Germany

We’re 30 priests, here for one week. It’s been very good, to see the Pope, to hear him. Yesterday the meditations in the seven churches were fantastic. This Jubilee is very important.


Father Gerard Battersby, Sacred Heart Seminary, Detriot

We’re here finishing a pilgrimage. We make a pilgrimage for first year men every year, first we go to the Holy Land and then we end up here in Rome. It’s been marvelous and it’s a great opportunity for the men to encounter Christ in a more palpable way. It’s a privilege to be in Rome during the Jubilee Year, to be in St. Peter’s and to have an opportunity to experience God’s mercy. 


Brother Dave Brokke, Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit

It’s been an amazing pilgrimage, to be able to be here in the place where St. Peter was crucified, where the Church is alive and universal. To walk through the Holy Doors was amazing. I noticed how many people are engaging in prayer… For me it’s been really great just to spend time in adoration and prayer, to go deeper. I hope to meet the Holy Father - to have the Successor of Peter here is life changing and I would really love to meet him. 


Father Salvatore Sabato, Collegio Penitenzieri Vaticani, missionary for over 40 years in Indonesia.

There have been three days of the Jubilee Year for priests and it’s a time of awakening, of awakening the faith. All are called to respond because the faith isn’t a gift and that’s it, it a gift through which we’re converted and the jubilee is an occasion for all of us. The Jubilee is not restricted to the West. I’m a missionary in Indonesia but I’ve seen groups showing an interest not only from Indonesia and the Philippines but also China. It’s really wonderful, this inundation from China, Taiwan. All over the Near and Far East, all are coming to celebrate the Jubilee. Of course Rome and St. Peter’s attract many, and many are tourists… But it’s also interesting to see so many bishops, cardinals, priests in the confessional.


Father Raul Kiangi, Carmelite friar from the Democratic Republic of Congo living in the diocese of Würzburg, Germany.

We’re here with our bishop and priests, 30 people in total, on pilgrimage for the Jubilee. We’ve found the jubilee to have been very good, all that we’ve experienced, and the catechesis of today was really wonderful. The Pope radiates great joy, quite simply Christ, and I find this really good. 


Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Nakuru, Kenya

I came today with a group of 47 pilgrims from Kenya and our pilgrimage is going to take us to Assisi, Avignon, Lourdes, Fatima and then back to Kenya. Today we came to Rome to visit the various historic places for an experience of faith and we thought coming to an audience with the Holy Father would be a very good experience. The Holy Father spoke about the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, and as he has always insisted, he emphasized we need the feeling of the mercy of God, each and every one of us, to avoid the attitude of the Pharisee and take unto ourselves the attitude of the publican. In fact he made us repeat three times: “God have mercy on me a sinner”, just like the publican did. So I think this is a very important catechesis and all of us have been invited by the Holy Father in a special way to take for ourselves the person and attitude of the publican.

We are in the Jubilee of Mercy and we celebrate it in a special way, this Jubilee of Mercy for priests taking place this week, because we find that priests are important agents of the mercy of God in the Church. The celebration of the Jubilee of Mercy and the celebration of the Jubilee for priests go very much together because priests are expected to be the example of Jesus Christ himself, of the mercy of God Himself in the Church. So it is an invitation to look unto ourselves again and the invitation of God to see how we are to be real and true agents of God in the Christian communities in which we serve.

On Africa’s contribution to the Church in the West: We in Africa have been beneficiaries of the faith thanks to the contribution of many missionaries, most of whom have come from the West and the faith continues to grow in Africa slowly. I think the time will come for us again to share the experience of the faith with those who brought us the faith, and in this way the Tradition, the richness and the wealth of the Catholic Church continues to grow. This exchange between the up and coming Church in Africa and those who brought us the faith from the Western world, especially Europe and America, this continued experience and sharing of faith contributes greatly to the growth of the Church. 


Ingo Söderlund from Sweden

We are 25 people from Sweden and have connections with the international charismatic church. We are Lutherans, it’s a big day for us and we feel unity in our hearts. This Pope is very important to us, and I think it’s important for all churches to greet Pope Francis and join him in prayer, love him and the Catholic Church, too. We’re looking forward to his visit in October but we don’t know if the group here will be there for that.


Rosanna from Casale, northern Italy.

The catechesis was good, simple, so everyone could understand. We come from northern Italy and are here on a pilgrimage with our bishop. I was last here two years ago also on a pilgrimage from Casale. The Pope is a fabulous person, not like any other, really the kind of Pope that was wanted. Really the Holy Spirit sent him, truly. Even the people who don’t believe, all are watching him. He attracts everyone, they look at him and I’d say the words he says enter into the heart of a person and there is a small change.