Yes, Even Non Christians Can (and Must) Do Good

A homily from the pope on why thinking only Christians can do good is not Christlike.

“Doing good” is a principle that unites all of humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates that culture of encounter which is at the foundation of peace.

The Gospel speaks to us of the disciples of Jesus who are preventing a person outside of their group from doing good. They complain because they say: “If he is not one of ours, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not prevent him. Let him do good.”

The disciples were a bit intolerant, closed off in the idea of possessing the truth, in the conviction that all those who do not have the truth cannot do good. And this was wrong and Jesus widens the horizon. The root of this possibility of doing good, which we all have, is in creation.

“But, Father, he’s not Catholic! He can’t do good!” Yes, he can. He must. It’s not that he can; he must!

The Lord has created us in his image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and he does good, and all of us have in our hearts this commandment: do good and do not do evil. All of us.

“But, Father, he’s not Catholic! He can’t do good!” Yes, he can. He must. It’s not that he can; he must! Because he has this commandment inside. “But, Father, he’s not Christian, he can’t do it!” Yes, he can. He must.

Instead, this closed-mindedness of thinking that no good can be done on the outside, by everyone, is a wall that leads us to war and killing in the name of God. We cannot kill in the name of God. This is simply blasphemy. Saying that we can kill in the name of God, that is blasphemy.

The Lord has redeemed, all of us with the blood of Christ; all, not only Catholics. All! “Father, what about atheists?” Them too. All! And this blood makes us children of God first class! We have been created children in the likeness of God, and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And all of us have the duty to do good. And this commandment to all of us to do good, I believe this is an excellent way to peace.

And this commandment to all of us to do good, I believe this is an excellent way to peace.

If we, each one of us for his part, does good for others, we will meet there, doing good, and slowly, gently, little by little, we will make up that culture of encounter. We have such need of this. Encountering each other by doing good.

“But I don’t believe, Father. I am an atheist!” Well, do good. We’ll meet there!

Today is the feast of Saint Rita, patroness of impossible causes, and this seems impossible. Let’s ask her for this grace, this grace that all, all, all persons may do good and that we may encounter each other in this work, which is a work of creation; it resembles the creation of the Father. A work of family, because we are all children of God, all, all! And God loves us, all of us!

May Saint Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible.

This homily was originally given by Pope Francis on May 22, 2013. This homily is featured in Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday, a collection of homilies given by Pope Francis at an intimate morning Mass in the small Vatican chapel of St. Martha. Published by Image, the book is available June 16.

Image courtesy of MattiaATH / Shutterstock.com.

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  • bakabomb

    Francis is a Pope for everyone, not just for Catholics, but “for all. All. All!” He says so much in so few words, and they address issues beyond their specific topic. This homily is a perfect example. Imagine, if you can, a Catholic Pope hinting at universalism. Now read his words again in light of that question. Food for thought.

  • ksed11

    The root of this possibility of doing good, which we all have, is in creation.

    Paul tells us in Romans that God has placed the moral law on all people, Christians and non-Christians alike. Thus, the atheist doesn’t need to believe in God to be moral. What one can question, however, is, if atheism is true, what provides the foundation for objective morality?