“We offer this Mass for our 21 brothers, beheaded for the sole reason of being Christian. Let us pray them, for my brother Tawadros, who suffers so much.”
Pope Francis began his morning Mass, which he offered for the victims killed by the Islamic State last week in Libya. Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father called Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to express his sympathy and solidarity “for the recent barbaric murder of Coptic Christians by Islamic fundamentalists.”
Today’s first reading was from the Book of Genesis, in which God “saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil.” According to Vatican Radio, the Pope reflected on this saying that mankind’s ability to “destroy everything that God has made” is recounted in many instances in the first book of the Bible.
“We are capable of also destroying brotherhood: Cain and Abel in the first pages of the Bible destroys brotherhood,” he said. “It is the beginning of war. Jealousy, envy, so much greed for power, to have more power; yes, this seems negative, but it is realistic. Pick up a newspaper, any one – from the left, the center, the right…whichever one. And you will see that 90% of the news is news of destruction. More than 90%. And this we see everyday.”
The Pope listed war and weapons trafficking as such examples of wickedness that come from the heart of man. Other ways include gossiping, jealousy, and envy, which, he noted, “have the capacity to destroy.”
However, he said, “we also have the Holy Spirit who saves us! But we must choose. This is what the Church, at the doorway of Lent, makes us reflect on.”
Turning to today’s Gospel, the Pope reflected on Christ’s warning to “watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” as they argued over the lack of bread. The disciples, he said, did not understand Jesus “because of this wickedness of arguing amongst themselves to see who was guilty of forgetting the bread.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis said that despite mankind’s weakness, they are capable of doing good. “We are all capable of doing so much good, but we are also capable of destroying; destroying in great things and small things, even in the family; in destroying the children by not allowing them to grow in freedom, not helping them to grow up well.”
“Let us ask the Lord, today, before starting Lent for this grace: to always choose well the path with His help and to not let ourselves be deceived by the seductions that bring us on the wrong path,” he concluded.