A pagan can become a believer through humility, just as a believer can lose the faith by following their own passions. This was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

Today’s readings presented examples of two distinct paths: one from idolatry to the living God; the other from the living God to idolatry. Beginning with the former, the Holy Father spoke about the Gospel which recalled the Canaanite woman who asks Jesus to free her daughter from demonic possession.

“Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs,” was Christ's response. Jesus, the Pope explained, uses strong language to explain that he came first for the people of Israel. However, this woman responds not with her intelligence, but as a mother in need.

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps,” she replied.

“She was exposed to risk of making a fool of herself, but she insisted, and from paganism and idolatry she found health for her daughter and for herself, she found the living God,” the Pope said.

“This is the path of a person of good will, who looks for God and finds Him. The Lord blesses her. How many people go on this path and the Lord awaits them! But it is the same Holy Spirit that brings them forward on this path. Every day in the Church of the Lord there are people that go on this path, silently, to find the Lord, because they let themselves be taken forward by the Holy Spirit.”

However, the Pope continued, there is another path, the path that Solomon takes in the first reading. Solomon, although the wisest and powerful man in the world, was led by his weakness for women - pagan concubines who turned his heart towards idolatry. “These women weakened Solomon’s heart slowly, slowly. His heart did not remain intact with the Lord, like the heart of David, his father,” the Pope said.

“His heart is weakened, he is weakened and lost the faith. He lost the faith. The wisest man in the world let himself be taken by an indiscreet love, without discretion; he lets himself be taken by his passions. ‘But father, Solomon did not lose the faith, he believed in God and was capable of reciting the Bible!’ Yes, it's true, but having faith does not mean being able to recite the Creed. You can recite the Creed and lose the faith.”

The Pope explained that like his father, Solomon was a sinner. But unlike his father, who was humble and asked for forgiveness, Solomon continued in his sins and became corrupt. Despite his wisdom, the David’s son allowed his vanity and passions to corrupt him. “It is in the heart where one loses faith,” the Holy Father said.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to receive the Word of God with docility and humility, following the same path as the Canaanite woman.

“May the Word of God [that is] powerful, guard us on this path and and not allow us to end in corruption which takes us to idolatry,” he said. (J.A.E.)