Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s basilica early this morning with close to 500 members of the Italian Parliament.
Among those present this morning were the presidents of the Italian Senate and House, Piero Grasso and Laura Boldrini, respectively.
The Pope centered his homily on the first reading from Jeremiah, where the prophet denounces a generation that “have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.” This reality is also displayed in the Gospel, where some in the crowd accused Christ of driving out demons “by the prince of demons.”
“The heart of these people, of this little group, in time will be hardened so much, so much so that it is impossible to listen to the voice of the Lord,” the Holy Father explained. “And from sinners, they have slipped, they became corrupt. It is very difficult for a corrupt person to go back. The sinner yes, because the Lord is merciful and waits for us all. But the corrupt is fixed in his things, and these people were corrupt. And this is why they justify themselves, because Jesus, with his simplicity, but also with the strength of God, bothered them.”
The Pope went on to say that those who have slipped into becoming corrupt resist the “salvation of the love of God and passed from a theology of faith to a theology of duty.”
“They refused the love of the Lord and this refusal has made them go on a path that was not the dialectic (reasoning) of freedom that the Lord offered, but rather that logic of necessity, where there is no place for the Lord,” he said. “In the dialectic of freedom there is the good Lord, who loves us. He love us so much! Instead, in the logic of necessity there is no place for God: you must do, you must, you must…They have become behavioral. Men of good ways, but of bad habits. Jesus calls them, ‘whited sepulchres.’”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the Italian parliamentarians to open their hearts to the Lord, particularly in this time of Lent.
“Let us pray that the Lord may gives us the grace to go always on the path of salvation, to open ourselves to the salvation that only comes from God, from faith, not that which these ‘doctors of duty’ proposed, who have lost the faith and ruled the people with this pastoral theology of duty.” (J.A.E.)