A Church closed in on Herself is a “hopeless Church that is more of a spinster than a mother”. These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.
According to Vatican Radio, the Pope reflected on today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells the story of the shepherd who went in search of the lost sheep. “And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray,” Jesus says. “In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
The Holy Father explained that the Church is joyful and happy “when she goes out of herself.” He also explained that the shepherd in the Gospel could have taken a business approach and see losing one sheep as a small loss.
“No, he has the heart of a shepherd, he goes out and searches for [the lost sheep] until he finds it, and then he rejoices, he is joyful,” the Pope said.
“The joy of going out to seek the brothers and sisters who are far off: This is the joy of the Church. Here the Church becomes a mother, becomes fruitful”
However, the Pope warned that when the Church closes in on herself, it becomes stagnant and disheartened. Without joy or peace, he said, it becomes “a Church that seems more like a spinster than a mother.”
“The joy of the Church is to give birth; the joy of the Church is to go out of herself to give life; the joy of the Church is to go out to seek the sheep that are lost; the joy of the Church is precisely the tenderness of the shepherd, the tenderness of the mother,” he said.
Concluding his homily, the Pope called on the faithful to pray for grace of being joyful Christians, who may have organizational perfection in the Church, yet are barren and do not give fruit.
“May the Lord console us with the consolation of a Mother Church that goes out of herself and consoles us with the consolation of the tenderness of Jesus and His mercy in the forgiveness of our sins,” concluded.