Pope Francis has shared a personal memory from when he was in Buenos Aires…
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this today, April 6, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta on this Monday of Holy Week.
At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of Coronavirus, the Holy Father prayed for the incarcerated and the poor.
“Where there is overcrowding,” the Pope observed, thinking of prisoners: “there is the danger in this pandemic that it winds up being a grave tragedy.”
“Let us pray for those responsible, and for those who need to make decisions in this area,” he implored, “that they might find a correct and creative way to resolve the problem.”
The Holy Father also spoke of the poor, and how Jesus is always present with and in them. Many poor people, the Holy Father lamented, are victims of economic and financial systems. Too embarrassed to ask for help, he recognized they struggle to make it to the end of the month, even if they have a job.
The Pope then told a story from his time as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina.
“Once, someone told me about an abandoned factory in which around 15 families had lived for the previous few months,” Francis recalled.
“I went there,” he said, remembering: “There were families with children, and each had claimed a part of the factory to live in. Looking closer, I saw that every family had good furniture, indicative of the middle class, with a television set. But they wound up there because they couldn’t pay their rent.”
“These,” Pope Francis stated, “are the new poor who are forced to leave their homes because they can’t afford them. This is the injustice of the economic or financial system that has left them like that.”
The Pope underscored how Jesus is always present in the poor, reminding: “Jesus’ first question on the Day of Judgment will be: “How did you treat the poor? Did you feed them? Did you visit those in prison, in hospital? Did you help the widow and the orphan? Because I was there.”
We will be judged, the Pontiff said, “according to our relationship with the poor.”
“If I ignore the poor today, leaving them aside and acting as if they didn’t exist,” the Pontiff said, “the Lord will ignore me on the Day of Judgment.”
“When Jesus says, ‘You always have the poor with you,’ He is saying, ‘I will always be with you in the poor. I will be present there,’” Francis said, pointing out: “And this is not acting like a communist.”
This, the Pope said, is at the center of the Gospel: “we will be judged on this.”
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]
This passage ends with an observation: “So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus” (John 12:10-11). The other day we saw the passages of the temptation: the initial seduction, the illusion, then it grows — the second passage — and the third; it grows and gets infected and justifies itself. However, there is another passage: it goes on, it doesn’t stop. It wasn’t enough, because of these, to put Jesus to death, but now, also Lazarus, because he was a witness of life.
However, today I would like to pause on a word of Jesus. Six days before the Passover, — we are in fact at the threshold of the Passion –, Mary does this gesture of contemplation. Martha was serving — as in the other passage — and Mary opens the door to contemplation. And Judas thinks of the money and thinks of the poor, but “not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it” (John 12:6). This story of the unfaithful administrator is always timely; they always exist, also at a high level: we think of some charitable and humanitarian organizations that have so many committed people, so many, that have a very rich structure of people and in the end what the poor receive is 40%, because 60% goes to pay the stipend to so many people. It’s a way of taking money from the poor — but Jesus is the answer. And I want to pause here: ”The poor, in fact, you always have with you. There are poor, there are so many: there is the poor man that we see, but this is the least part; the great quantity of poor are those that we don’t see, the hidden poor. And we don’t see them because we enter into this culture of indifference, which is a denier and we deny: “No, no, there aren’t so many, they aren’t seen; yes, that case . . . always diminishing the reality of the poor — however, there are so many, so many.
Or even, if we don’t enter this culture of indifference, there is a habit of seeing the poor as ornaments of a city: yes, they are there, as the statues; yes, they are, they are seen; yes, that little old lady who asks for alms . . . But as if it [were] something normal. It’s part of the ornamentation of the city to have poor people. However, the great majority are the poor victims of economic policies, of financial policies. And some recent statistics summarize it thus: there is so much money in the hands of a few and so much poverty in so many — in many. And this is the poverty of many people, victims of the structural injustice of the global economy. And [there are] so many poor that are ashamed to make it seen that they can’t make it until the end of the month; so many poor of the middle class, who go hidden to Caritas and ask privately and feel ashamed. The poor are many more than the rich, many, many . . . And what Jesus says is true: “The poor in fact you have always with you.” However, do I see them? Am I aware of this reality, especially of the hidden reality, those that feel ashamed to say that they cannot make it to the end of the month?
I remember that in Buenos Aires I was told that the building of an abandoned factory, which was empty for years, was lived in by some fifteen families that had arrived in those last months. I went there. They were families with children and each one had taken a part of the abandoned factory to dwell in. And, looking around, I saw that every family had good furniture, they were middle class; they had television, but they went there because they couldn’t pay the rent. The new poor, who must leave their house because they can’t pay for it, go there. It’s that injustice of the economic and financial organization that brings them there. And there are so many, so many . . . to such a point that we will meet them in the Judgment. And the first question that Jesus will ask us is: “How did you fare with the poor? Did you give them to eat? When <one> was in prison, did you visit him? In hospital, did you see him? Did you help the widow, the orphan? Because I was there.” And we will be judged on this. We won’t be judged for <our> luxury or the trips we took or the social importance we have. We will be judged for our relation with the poor. However, if today I ignore the poor, I leave them to one side, I believe they aren’t there then the Lord will ignore me on Judgment Day. When Jesus says: “The poor you have always with you,” He means: “I will always be with you in the poor. I’ll be present there.” And this isn’t to be a Communist; this is the center of the Gospel: we will be judged on this.
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, Lady of the Angels; Gate and Root of salvation, bring light into the world. Delight, Glorious Virgin, beautiful among all women: Hail, all holy One, pray for us to Christ the Lord.”