Pope Francis celebrates morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae

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Pope's Morning Homily: Don't Auction Off Your Identity

At Casa Santa Marta, Warns Against Mentality of ‘Everyone Else Does It, Why Shouldn’t I?’

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Pope Francis today drew from the First Book of Maccabees to warn against worldliness and apostasy, saying that a Christian musn’t put his identity up for auction, or do things just because everyone else is doing it. 

The Pope made this reflection during his morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, according to Vatican Radio.

The First Reading of today’s Mass speaks of King Antiochus Epiphanes, referring to him as a “sinful offshoot” or a root of evil, who imposes pagan customs on the Chosen People.

Pope Francis commented that, “the image of the root is under the ground.” The “phenomenology of the root” is this: “What is not seen does not seem to do any harm, but then it grows and shows its true nature.”

The Holy Father noted that it was a “rational root,” pushing the Israelites to ally with neighboring nations for protection. 

“Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us; since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us,” the reading says.

The Pope explained this reading with three words: “Worldliness, apostasy, persecution.”

Worldliness in life is to do what the world does. It’s saying: “We put up for auction our identity card; we are equal to everyone. ” Thus, as the reading recounts, many Jews “disowned the faith and ‘abandoned the holy covenant.’” And what “seemed so rational – ‘we are like everyone else, we are normal’ – became their destruction.”

“Then the king recommended that his whole kingdom should be one people – the one thought; worldliness – and each abandoned their own customs. All peoples adapted themselves to the orders of the king; also many Jews accepted his worship: they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath. Apostasy. That is, worldliness that leads you to one unique thought, and to apostasy. No differences are permitted: all are equal. And in the history of the Church, the history we have seen, I think of a case, where religious feasts were renamed – the birth of the Lord has another name – in order to erase its identity.”

In Israel the books of the law were burned “and if someone obeyed the law, the judgment of the king condemned him to death.” That’s “persecution,” initiated by a “root of bitterness,” Francis said.

“I have  always been struck,” the Pope remarked, “that the Lord, at the Last Supper, in that long prayer, praying for unity [asks] the Father that he would deliver them from every spirit of the world, from all worldliness, because worldliness destroys identity; worldliness leads to the single thought.”

“It starts from a root, but it is small, and ends up an abomination of desolation, in persecution. This is the deception of worldliness, and why Jesus asked the Father, at that Supper: ‘Father, I do not ask you to remove them from the world, but keep them from the world,’ this mentality, this humanism, which is to take the place of the true man, Jesus Christ, that comes to take away the Christian identity and brings us to the single thought: ‘They all do it, why not us?’ This, in these times, should make us think: what is my identity? Is it Christian or worldly? Or do I say to myself, ‘Christian because I was baptized as a child or was born in a Christian country, where everyone is Christian?’ Worldliness that comes slowly, it grows, it justifies itself and infects: it grows like the root, it defends itself – ‘but, we do as others do, we are not so different’ – always looking for a justification, and eventually it becomes contagious, and many evils come from there.”

“The liturgy, in these last days of the liturgical year,” said the Pope, exhorts us to beware of “poisonous roots” that “lead away from the Lord.”

“And we pray to the Lord for the Church, that the Lord will guard it from all forms of worldliness. That the Church will always have the identity given to it by Jesus Christ; that we will all have the identity that we received in baptism. May the Lord give us the grace to maintain and preserve our Christian identity against the spirit of worldliness that always grows, justifies itself and is contagious. “

Readings provided by the US bishops’ conference:

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 497

Reading 1 1 MC 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63

[From the descendants of Alexander’s officers] there sprang a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes,
son of King Antiochus, once a hostage at Rome.
He became king in the year one hundred and thirty seven
of the kingdom of the Greeks.

In those days there appeared in Israel
men who were breakers of the law,
and they seduced many people, saying:
“Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us;
since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us.”
The proposal was agreeable;
some from among the people promptly went to the king,
and he authorized them to introduce the way of living
of the Gentiles.
Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem
according to the Gentile custom.
They covered over the mark of their circumcision
and abandoned the holy covenant;
they allied themselves with the Gentiles
and sold themselves to wrongdoing.

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
each abandoning his particular customs.
All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,
and many children of Israel were in favor of his religion;
they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.

On the fifteenth day of the month Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-five,
the king erected the horrible abomination
upon the altar of burnt offerings
and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars.
They also burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets.
Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt.
Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant,
and whoever observed the law,
was condemned to death by royal decree.
But many in Israel were determined
and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean;
they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food
or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.
Terrible affliction was upon Israel.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158

R. (see 88) Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Indignation seizes me because of the wicked
who forsake your law.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Though the snares of the wicked are twined about me,
your law I have not forgotten.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Redeem me from the oppression of men,
that I may keep your precepts.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and
I will do your commands.
I am attacked by malicious persecutors
who are far from your law.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Far from sinners is salvation,
because they seek not your statutes.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
I beheld the apostates with loathing,
because they kept not to your promise.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.

Alleluia JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 18:35-43

As Jesus approached Jericho
a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging,
and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening.
They told him,
“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
The people walking in front rebuked him,
telling him to be silent,
but he kept calling out all the more,
“Son of David, have pity on me!”
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him;
and when he came near, Jesus asked him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”
He immediately received his sight
and followed him, giving glory to God.
When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.

 

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