None of us fell into this world by chance…. From the womb, God had a plan for us…
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this today, April 7, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta on this Tuesday of Holy Week.
At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of Coronavirus, the Holy Father prayed for innocent people, unjustly sentenced.
“I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because of persecution.”
Jesus, the Holy Father lamented, was targeted by the doctors of the law even though He was innocent.
Reflecting on Isaiah’s prophecy (Is 49: 1-6) relating to the Messiah and the People of God, the Pope has ‘chosen’ each and everyone of us, for a particular mission.
“God chose the prophet before he was born,” the Jesuit Pope reminded, pointing out: “In the same way, each one of us is chosen with the vocation of serving from our mother’s womb. None of us fell into this world by chance.”
Each one of us, he said, has a destiny, a free destiny. “The destiny is the election of God. I am born chosen to be a servant of God with the task of serving.”
All of us, the Pope reminded, in one way or another are called to serve, and to live out our own vocation in significant and in little ways.
“Except for Our Lady and Jesus,” he admitted, “we have all fallen.” The example of Peter is a source of inspiration, Francis said, recalling that when Peter denied Jesus and the cock crowed, he cried and repented (Mt 26:75).
“This is the path of a servant who asks for forgiveness when he or she slips and falls.”
Francis lamented the other path where the servant is incapable of understanding that he or she has fallen, leaving the heart open to passions that lead to idolatry. “Like Judas,” he regretted, “the heart becomes open to Satan.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily, inviting faithful to to think of Jesus who was faithful in service. “We are by vocation meant to serve and not to make a profit from our position in the Church.”
Like Peter, Pope Francis prayed, may we be able to weep when we slip and fall.
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, 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 is available below:
FULL HOMILY [translated by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]
The prophecy of Isaiah, which we listened to, is a prophecy about the Messiah, about the Redeemer, but also a prophecy about the People of Israel, about the People of God: we can say that it can be a prophecy about each of us. In essence, the prophecy underscores that the Lord has chosen His servant from the maternal womb: it says it twice (Cf. Isaiah 49:1). His servant was chosen from the beginning, from his birth or before his birth. The People of God were chosen before their birth, also each one of us. None of us fell into the world by accident, by chance. Each one has a destiny, has a free destiny, the destiny of God’s election. I am born with the destiny of being a child of God, of being a servant of God, with the task to serve, to construct, to build — and this from the maternal womb.
Jesus, the Servant of Yahweh, served until death: it seemed a defeat, but it was the way of serving. And this underscores the way of serving that we must take up in our life. To serve is to give oneself, to give oneself to others. To serve and not expect for each one of us some benefit that isn’t to serve. To serve is glory, and Christ’s glory is to serve until annihilating Himself, until death, death on the Cross (Cf. Philippians 2:8). Jesus is the Servant of Israel. The People of God is servant, and when the People of God moves away from this attitude to serve it is an apostate people: it moves away from the vocation that God has given it. And when each one of us moves away from this vocation to serve, we move away from God’s love, and build our life on other loves, often idolatrous.
The Lord has chosen us from the maternal womb. There are falls in life: each one of us is a sinner and can fall and is fallen. Only Our Lady and Jesus <are not>. All the rest of us have fallen, we are sinners. However, what matters is <my> attitude before God who chose me and anointed me as servant. It’s the attitude of a sinner that is able to ask for forgiveness, as Peter, who swore “no, I will never deny You, Lord, never, never, never! — then, when the cock crowed, he wept. He repented (Cf. Matthew 26:75). This is the path of the servant: when he slips, when he falls, he asks for forgiveness. Instead, when the servant isn’t capable of understanding that he is fallen, when passion takes hold of him in such a way that it leads him to idolatry, he opens his heart to Satan, he enters in the night: it’s what happened to Judas (Cf. Matthew 27:3-10).
We think today of Jesus, the Servant, faithful in service. His vocation is to serve until death and death on the Cross (Cf. Philippians 2:5-11). We think of each one of us, part of the People of God: we are servants, our vacation is to serve, not to profit from our place in the Church: to serve – — always in service.
Let us ask for the grace to persevere in service. Sometimes with slips, falls, but at least the grace to weep as Peter wept.
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 if You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not permit me to be ever separated from You.
Before leaving the Chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the ancient Marian antiphon Ave Regina Caelorum (Hail, Queen of Heaven”) was intoned:
Hail, Queen of Heaven, hail, Lady of the Angels, gate and root of salvation, bring light into the world. Delight, glorious Virgin, beautiful among all women; hail, O all holy One, pray for us to Christ the Lord.”