“The privatization of salvation is the wrong path.” These were the words of Pope Francis during his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta today.
According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reflected on the first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, in which St. Paul encourages Christians to “not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another.”
The Pope reminded those present that while God has saved us individually, it has always been within the context of a people throughout the history of salvation.
“The Lord always saves within the people,” he said. “From the moment He called Abraham, He promises him to make a people. […] For this reason the author of this Letter says: “We must consider how to rouse one another “. There isn’t salvation for only myself. If I understand salvation in that way, I am mistaken; I am on the wrong path.”
“The privatization of salvation,” he stressed, “is the wrong path.”
Continuing his homily, the Jesuit Pope explained that there are three ways to prevent this “privatization of salvation” within the parish or community: faith, hope and works of charity.
“In order to not privatize salvation, I need to ask myself if I speak and communicate the faith, speak and communicate hope, speak, practice and communicate charity,” he said.
“If within a particular community there is no communication between people and no encouragement is given to everybody to practice these three virtues, the members of that community have privatized their faith. Each of them is looking for his or her personal salvation, not the salvation of everybody, the salvation of their people. And Jesus saved all of us but as part of his people, within a Church.”
Regarding Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews, the Pope said that the counsel given by the apostle can be applied to the parish and the communities within, where people can exclude themselves from everyone in order to seek salvation on their own.
“They scorn the others, they stay away from the community as a whole, they stay away from the people of God, they have privatized salvation,” he explained. “Salvation is for me and my small group, but not for all the people of God. And this is a very serious mistake. It’s what we see and call: ‘the ecclesial elites.’ “
“When these small groups are created within the community of God’s people, these people believe they are being good Christians and also are acting in good faith maybe, but they are small groups who have privatized salvation.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis reminded the faithful once again that God saves within the people of God.
“May the Lord give us the grace to feel always as the people of God, saved personally. That is true: He saves us by first and last name, but saved within a people, not in the little group that I make for myself,” he concluded.