Contemplate, pray and give thanks…. This is how we ought to respond to Jesus’ having born our sins…
Pope Francis stressed this today, March 31, as he offered his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta for the victims of Coronavirus, which has claimed more than 11,600 lives in Italy.
Today, the Holy Father prayed for the homeless.
“At this moment in which everyone is supposed to be at home, may society, men and women, realize this reality and help them, and that the Church might welcome them.”
In today’s homily, the Holy Father reflected on the symbol of the serpent presented in both readings of the Fifth Tuesday of Lent (Numbers 21:4-9 and John 8:21-30), reported Vatican News.
As he reflected on how from the very beginning, people have been sinful and ungrateful, the Pope stressed how we must be grateful to the Lord for taking on our sins to redeem all of us.
Jesus, Francis stressed, took upon himself all of our sins….
“There was a vendetta by the doctors of the law who didn’t want Him,” he reminded, saying: “All of that is true. But the truth that comes from God is that He came into the world to take our own sins upon Himself to the point of making Himself sin…. Our sins are there.”
Exhorting us to be more grateful, he continued, “Christians need to make it a habit of looking at the crucifix “in this light”, in the “light of the redemption” and as a reminder that Jesus did not pretend to suffer and die.”
“Rather,” he said, “it was the moment of His utter defeat,” as “He was entirely alone with the burden of our sin that He had taken on Himself to the point of annihilation and the feeling of total abandonment by His Father.”
“It’s not easy to understand this,” the Jesuit Pope said, noting “should we think about it, we’ll never arrive at a conclusion.”
“We can only contemplate, pray, and give thanks,” he said.
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:
A serpent is certainly not a likable animal: it’s always associated with evil. In revelation also, the serpent is in fact the animal that the devil uses to induce to sin. In the Apocalypse the devil is called the “ancient serpent,” he that from the beginning bites, poisons, destroys and kills. Therefore, he can’t succeed. If he wants to succeed, as someone that proposes beautiful things, these are fantasies: but we believe him and so we sin. This is what happened to the people of Israel: they couldn’t endure the journey. They were tired. And the people spoke against God and against Moses. It’s always the same thing, isn’t it? “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt? To have us die in this wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food, the manna.” (Cf. Numbers 21:4-5) And, we read in past days, their imagination goes always to Egypt: “But, we were fine there, we ate well . . . “And it also seems that the Lord didn’t endure the people in this moment. He got angry. God’s wrath could sometimes be seen . . . And then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, which bit the people and they died. ” Many people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:5). The serpent is always the image of evil. In that moment, the people saw in the serpent sin; they see in the serpent the one that has done evil. And they go to Moses and say: “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us” (Numbers 21:7). They repent. This is the story in the wilderness. Moses prayed for the people and the Lord said to Moses” “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8).
It makes me think: is this not idolatry? The serpent is there, an idol, which gives me health . . . It’s not understandable. Logically, it’s not understandable, because this is a prophecy; this is an announcement of what is to come. Because we also heard in the Gospel as a close prophecy: “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on my own” (John 8:28). Jesus lifted on the cross. Moses makes a serpent and lifts it. Jesus will be lifted, as the serpent, to give salvation. However, the core of the prophecy is, in fact, that Jesus made Himself sin for us. He didn’t sin: He made Himself sin. As Saint Peter says in his Letter: “He Himself bore our sins” (Cf. 1 Peter 2:24). And when we look at the crucifix, we think of the Lord suffering: all that is true. However, we pause before coming to the center of that truth: in this moment You seem to be the greatest sinner; You made Yourself sin. You have taken all our sins upon Yourself. He annihilated Himself to this. The cross, it’s true, is a torture; there is the vengeance of the Doctors of the Law, of those that didn’t want Jesus: all this is true. However, the truth that comes from God is that He came into the world to take our sins upon Himself, to the point of making Himself sin, every sin. Our sins are there. We must get into the habit of looking at the crucifix in this light, which is the truest; it’s the light of the redemption. In Jesus made sin we see Christ’s total defeat. He doesn’t feign to die; He doesn’t feign he’s not suffering, alone, abandoned . . . “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me? (Cf. Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).” A serpent: I am lifted as a serpent, as that which is all sin.
It’s not easy to understand this and, if we think, we’ll never come to a conclusion. We must only contemplate, pray and thank.
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:
My Jesus, I believe you are really present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. As I cannot receive You sacramentally now, come at least spiritually into my heart. As You have already come, I embrace you and unite myself to You. Do not let me ever be separated from You.
Before leaving the Chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon Ave Regina Caelorum (Hail Queen of Heaven”) was intoned.
“Hail, Queen of Heaven, Lady of the Angels: door and root of salvation, bring light into the world; delight, glorious Virgin, beautiful among all women. Hail, all holy