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Be Ashamed of Being a Sinner But Trust in God’s Great Mercy, Suggests Pope Francis (Full Text of Morning Homily)

At Casa Santa Marta, Reminds the Church Is the Mother of All

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Be ashamed of being a sinner, but trust in God’s great mercy.

Pope Francis gave this reminder today, March 30, as he offered his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta for the victims of Coronavirus, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives in Italy.

Today, the Holy Father expressed gratitude and prayed “for the many people who are not succeeding in coping and remain in fear because of the pandemic.”

“May the Lord help them,” the Pope prayed, “to have the strength to cope for the good of society and the entire community.”

In today’s homily, the Holy Father reflected on Psalm 23, and applied it to the two women presented in the readings for the Fifth Monday of Lent, namely Susanna and the woman caught in adultery (Daniel 13; John 8:1-11), reported Vatican News.

Francis began the homily citing the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

This, Pope Francis said, is the experience these two women had, whose story we read in the two Readings. “An innocent woman, falsely accused, slandered, and a sinful woman, both sentenced to death – the innocent one and the sinful one.”

Both women, Francis recognized, were desperate, “humanly desperate,” and in “a dark valley, toward death” but Susanna trusts in God.

“The first trusts God explicitly and the Lord intervenes. The second, poor thing,” Francis said, “knows she is culpable, ashamed before all the people — because the people were present in both situations — the Gospel doesn’t say it, but undoubtedly she prayed within, asking for some help.”

“What does the Lord do with these people?” the Pope asked, noting: “He saves the innocent woman; He does justice for her. He forgives the sinful woman. He condemns the corrupt judges; He helps the hypocrites to convert and He says before the people: “Yes, really? Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” and one by one they went away.”

The Pope went on to say how the Lord deals with all of us who are sinners, showing us mercy, as long as we are not corrupt.

Each One of Us

“Each one of us,” Pope Francis acknowledged, “has his own stories. Each one of us has his own sins. And if he doesn’t remember them, he must think a bit and he will find them. Thank God if you find them, because if you don’t find them, you are a corrupt person.”

Even with our sins, we must–Pope Francis suggested–remember our Lord does justice but is so very merciful.

“Let us not be ashamed to be in the Church,” the Pope noted, saying we ought to “be ashamed of being sinners.”

“The Church is Mother of all,” he said, noting We thank God that we are not corrupt, but we are sinners. And each one of us, seeing how Jesus acts in these cases, must trust in God’s mercy.”

“Pray,” Pope Francis exhorted, “with trust in God’s mercy; pray for forgiveness. Because God ‘leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — the valley of sin — I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.’”

Before concluding, the Pope exhorted faithful to partake in Spiritual Communion in this difficult time, and ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.

Here are the Holy Father’s words, followed by the prayer for Spiritual Communion:

I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abases itself in its nothingness in Your Holy Presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your Love; I desire to receive You in the poor abode that my heart offers You. While waiting for the happiness of a Sacramental Communion, I want to possess You in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, that I may come to You. May Your Love inflame my whole being, in life and in death. I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You. Amen.

The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation.

It was announced this month that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time.

The Vatican has also published the Pope’s Holy Week and Easter schedule, confirming this year’s events will not welcome the physical presence of the faithful, and the events will be made available via streaming.

This comes at a time too when the Italian bishops’ conference has canceled public Masses throughout the nation, until at least April 3rd, following guidelines put out by Italian authorities.

In addition to Santa Marta, the Vatican has taken other steps to keep people safe and to stay close to the Pope, even if from a distance. They are televising the Pope giving privately, from the papal library, his weekly Angelus and General Audience addresses.

The Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.

For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily can be read below:

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FULL HOMILY

In the Responsorial Psalm we prayed: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

This is the experience that these two women had, whose story we read in the two Readings. An innocent woman, falsely accused, slandered, and a sinful woman, both sentenced to death – the innocent one and the sinful one. Some Fathers of the Church saw in these two women a figure of the Church: holy, but with sinful children. They said in a beautiful Latin expression: “The Church is the chaste whore, the holy one with sinful children.

Both women were desperate, humanly desperate, but Susanna trusts in God. There are also two groups of persons, of men, both assigned to the service of Church: the judges and the teachers of the Law. They weren’t ecclesiastics, but were at the service of the Church, in the tribunal and in the teaching of the Law — different. The first, those that accused Susanna, were corrupt: the corrupt judge, the emblematic figure in history. In the Gospel also, in the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus resumes the story of the corrupt judge that didn’t believe in God, and didn’t care at all about others — the corrupt. The Doctors of the Law weren’t corrupt but hypocrites. And these women — one fell into the hands of hypocrites and the other into the hands of the corrupt; there was no way out. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Both women were in a dark valley, they went there: a dark valley, towards death. The first trusts God explicitly and the Lord intervenes. The second, poor thing, knows she is culpable, ashamed before all the people — because the people were present in both situations — the Gospel doesn’t say it, but undoubtedly she prayed within, asking for some help.

What does the Lord do with these people? He saves the innocent woman; He does justice for her. He forgives the sinful woman. He condemns the corrupt judges; He helps the hypocrites to convert and He says before the people: “Yes, really? Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” and one by one they went away. The Apostle John is somewhat ironical here: “When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest.” He gives them a bit of time to repent; He doesn’t forgive the corrupt man, simply because the corrupt one is incapable of asking for forgiveness, he went beyond. He got tired . . . no, he didn’t get tired: he isn’t capable. Corruption has taken away from him that capacity we all have to be ashamed, to ask for forgiveness. No, the corrupt person is sure, he goes forward, destroys, exploits people, as this woman — everything, everything . . . he goes forward. He has put himself in God’s place.

And the Lord answers the women. He frees Susanna from these corrupt men; He makes her go forward. And to the other, He says: ”Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again.” He lets her go and He does so before the people. In the first case, the people praise the Lord; in the second case, the people learn, they learn how God’s mercy is. Each one of us has his own stories. Each one of us has his own sins. And if he doesn’t remember them, he must think a bit and he will find them. Thank God if you find them, because if you don’t find them, you are a corrupt person. Each one of us has his own sins. We look at the Lord who does justice but is so very merciful. Let us not be ashamed to be in the Church; let us be ashamed of being sinners. The Church is Mother of all. We thank God that we are not corrupt, but we are sinners. And each one of us, seeing how Jesus acts in these cases, must trust in God’s mercy. And pray, with trust in God’s mercy; pray for forgiveness. Because God “leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — the valley of sin — I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.

Here is the Prayer Recited by the Pope

I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer You the repentance of my contrite heart, which abases itself in its nothingness in Your holy Presence. I adore You in the Sacrament of your Love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive You in the poor abode that my heart offers You; while waiting for the happiness of Sacramental Communion, I want to possess You in Spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, that I may come to You. May your Love inflame my whole being in life and in death. I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You. Amen.

Before leaving the Chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the ancient Marian antiphon Ave Regina Caelorum (“Hail Queen of Heaven”) was intoned.

[ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ full homily at Santa Marta]

 

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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