The presence of God in the Church is determined by the presence of peace and joy and not by the level of organization. This was the central theme of the Holy Father’s homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae today.
Reflecting on the Gospel of the day, the Holy Father stated that Christ surprised the disciples in his response when they discussed who was the greatest among them. “He who is the least among you is the greatest,” Pope Francis said, paraphrasing the Gospel.
The first reading from the prophet Zechariah, he continued, “also speaks of the signs that indicate the presence: it is not a beautiful organization nor a government that moves forward with everything clean and perfect.”
“The future of a people is here and here, in the elderly and in the children. A people that does not care for their elderly and their children does not have a future, because they will not have a memory and will not have a promise! The elderly and the children are the future of a people! How common is it to put them aside, no? The children, to calm them down with a candy, with a game: “Do, Do; Go Go.’. And to not let the elderly talk, to do without their advice: ‘They are old, poor things…’”
Just like i today’s world, the Holy Father said, the disciples felt that the Church needed to move forward without any organizational problems or hurdles. This, he stressed, can turn into a temptation for the Church: “ a Church of functionalism, a well-organized Church!”
“A Church like this will not go forward: it will be a Church that fights for power, it will be the Church of jealousy among the baptized and of so many other things that there are when there is no memory or promise.”
Meetings, discourses and planning, while necessary, are not vital for the Church nor are they a sign of the presence of God, the Holy Father said.
“The sign of the presence of God is this, just as the Lord says: ‘Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age, shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem. The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets’,” the Pope said, quoting the reading from the prophet Zechariah.
This ‘playing’ makes us think of joy, the joy of the Lord. And these elderly, sitting with their staff in hand, calmly, makes us think of peace. Peace and joy: this is the air of the Church,” the Pope concluded.
During a press briefing today, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, noted the significance of the Holy Father’s words in light of the upcoming meeting of the Council of Cardinals that will meet with the Holy Father to discuss the governance of the universal Church and revisions to the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.