During the pope's General Audience on Wednesday, he spoke about the two thieves who died on either side of Jesus on the cross, and one who experienced the endless mercy and compassion of Christ during his final moments. Going off the script a few times, he was met with applause by the audience, who truly resonated with his words.
"The Church is not only for the good or for those who seem to think they are good. The Church is for everyone, and it even prefers those who are bad, because the Church is mercy.”
He said the good thief became the Gospel Christian model of one who relies on Jesus. He is a model of the Church that so often calls upon the Lord, asking Him to remember his unfailing love. As such, the sacrifice of the cross is meant for everyone, not only those who are 'worthy,' but anyone who accepts God's grace.
"The same faith this man had is the result of the grace of Christ: his eyes contemplated the crucifixion and the love of God for him, a poor sinner. It's true. He was a robber and a thief, it's true. He stole his whole life and was blindfolded until the end of his life, when he was looking at Jesus. This is the good mercy that allowed him to lawfully steal heaven.”
Pope Francis commented that this robber asked about the future promise of Christ, that of spending eternity with Him in paradise. Thus, the thief is a testimony of God's divine grace and mercy.
"The good thief called him by name, 'Jesus.' This is a short prayer that we all can pray during the day many times, 'Jesus, Jesus,' simply. Let's do it all together, come on! 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' It is something we can do all day long.”
He ended his catechesis remembering the battered victims in Syria, and reminding the bombers that they too will give an account of their life before God.