Sin will not keep Jesus away, pope pens in preface to Father Martin’s book

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus considers all the baptized to be his friends and will always try to restore them to life and health as he did with his friend Lazarus in the Gospel, Pope Francis wrote.

This is the cover image of “Come Forth: The Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle” written by Jesuit Father James Martin and published by HarperOne, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishing. The upcoming paperback edition will have a translation of the preface Pope Francis wrote for the book’s Italian edition. (CNS photo/courtesy HarperOne)

“Jesus is not afraid to come close to us, even when we ‘stink’ like a dead person buried for three days,” the pope wrote in the preface to the Italian edition of Jesuit Father James Martin’s book, “Come Forth: The Raising of Lazarus and the Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle.”

This is the cover image of the Italian edition of “Come Forth: The Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle” written by Jesuit Father James Martin with a preface written by Pope Francis. The edition is being published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house. (CNS photo/courtesy of Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

The Italian edition, published by the Vatican publishing house, was scheduled for release June 4 and Vatican News published the pope’s preface in Italian and English June 3. Father Martin said the upcoming paperback edition of the book in English also would carry the pope’s preface.

Pope Francis praised the book for how it “makes the biblical text come alive” with a reading that is “always ‘loving,’ never detached, nor coldly scientific.”

“Father James has the perspective of a person who has fallen in love with the Word of God,” the pope wrote, adding that reading the book made him wonder “how often we manage to approach Scripture with the ‘hunger’ of a person who knows that that word really is the Word of God.”

“The fact that God ‘speaks’ should give us a little jolt each and every day,” Pope Francis wrote. The Bible is a “love letter” that God sent to people living in every time and every place.

Pulling up a copy on one’s phone or opening a pocket edition “when we have an important meeting, or a difficult encounter or a moment of unease,” the pope said, can help people understand how the Bible is “a vibrant witness to a God that is not dead and buried on the dusty shelves of history.”

Turning to the focus of the book — the raising of Lazarus — Pope Francis

said Father Martin helps readers see that “in the end Lazarus is all of us.”

“We are also his friends; we too are, sometimes, ‘dead’ due to our sin, our shortcomings and

infidelity, our discouragement which degrades us and destroys our soul,” the pope wrote.

But Jesus was not afraid to approach Lazarus who had been dead three days, Pope Francis wrote, and he “is not afraid of our death or our sin. He stops only in front of the closed door of our heart, that door that opens only from the inside and that we double-lock when we think that God can no longer forgive us.”

“Jesus is not afraid to approach the sinner, any sinner, even the most fearless and brazen,” the pope continued. “He only has one concern: that no one gets lost, that no one loses the chance to feel the loving embrace of his Father.”

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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