On the afternoon of the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (March 4, 2019), Pope Francis went on a pastoral visit to the Roman parish of Saint Crispin of Viterbo al Labaro, in the North Sector of the diocese of Rome.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome; Bishop Guerino Di Tora, Auxiliary Bishop of the North Sector; parish priest Father Luciano Cacciamani; assistant-parish priest Father Andrea Lamonaca and all the priests who serve in the community, received the Pope on his arrival at 3:50 pm.
Pope Francis met in the parish hall on the first floor with children studying the Catechism in preparation for their First Communion and Confirmation, youngsters of post-Confirmation groups and of the Oratory. The youngest children welcomed the Holy Father with a song and the reading of a letter, while the youngsters asked him some questions.
Immediately after his meeting with the Catechism children, the Holy Father met, in an adjoining room, with the parents of children who have received or are about to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Then the Pontiff went to the ground floor where he met a group of indigent and homeless persons, helped by the parish Caritas and by Sant’Egidio Community. Present also were several volunteers. Then the Holy Father met with the sick and disabled, he greeted the priests of the community and administered the Sacrament of Reconciliation to five parishioners of different ages.
At 5:20 pm the Pope presided over the celebration of Holy Mass in the parish church. After the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father gave an off-the-cuff homily.
At the end of the Eucharistic Celebration and before the final blessing, the parish priest, Father Luciano Cacciamani, addressed the Pope briefly, expressing gratitude for his visit and gifting him with a picture by artist Meo Carbone, dedicated to the theme of immigration.
Before leaving the parish and returning to the Vatican, the Pope greeted the numerous faithful waiting for him outside the church
Here is a translation of the transcription of the Holy Father’s off-the-cuff homily, delivered during the course of the Mass.
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The Holy Father’s Homily
We have heard the Gospel in which Jesus explains Christian wisdom to the people with parables. For example, a blind man cannot guide another blind man; then, the disciple is not greater than his Master; then there isn’t a good tree that produces bad fruit. And so, with these parables, He taught the people.
I would like to pause on one, which I haven’t mentioned. Now I’ll say it [he reads]: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother: “Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,” while you yourself don’t see the log that is in your eye? Hypocrite. First, take out the log that is in your eye and then you’ll see well to take out the speck from your brother’s eye.” And with this, the Lord wants to teach us not to criticize others and look at others’ defects: first look at your own — your defects. “But, Father, I don’t have any!” — Ah, congratulations! I assure you that if you don’t think you have any, you will find out in Purgatory! It’s better to see them here. We all have defects — all of us. However, we are accustomed — a bit because of inertia, a bit because of the force of gravity of egoism, to look at others’ defects. We are all specialists in this. We find others’ defects immediately, and we talk about them because to run others down seems nice, it pleases us. No, perhaps it doesn’t happen in this parish [they laugh] but in other places, it’s very common. It always happens so: “Ah, how are you?” – Well, well, with this weather I’m fine… .? “But, have you seen that one… .? And immediately [one falls into this].
I don’t know if you’ve heard these things, but it’s an awful thing. And it’s not something new: this was done in Jesus’ time. It’s something that we have with original sin, it leads us to condemn others — to condemn. And right away we are specialists in seeing the bad things of others, without seeing our own. And Jesus says: “You condemn him for something small, and you have so many bigger things, but you don’t see them.” And this is true. Our badness isn’t so great because we are used to not seeing our limitations, not seeing our defects, but we are specialists in seeing others’ defects.
And Jesus says a very awful word to us, very awful: “if you go on this way, you are hypocrites.” It’s awful to say hypocrite. Jesus said it to the Pharisees, to the Doctors of the Law, who said something and did another. Hypocrites. Hypocrite means one who has a double thought, a double judgment: he says one openly, and another in a hidden way, with which he condemns others. It’s to have a double way of thinking, a double way of having oneself seen. They make themselves be seen as good, perfect people, but underneath they condemn. Therefore, Jesus flees from this hypocrisy and counsels us: ”It’s better that you look at your own defects and let others live in peace. Don’t stick yourself in others’ life: look at yours.”
And this is something that doesn’t end there; the gossiper doesn’t stop gossiping. The gossiper goes beyond, he sows discord; he sows enmity, he sows evil. Listen to this, I don’t exaggerate: wars begin with the tongue. You, by badmouthing others, start a war — take a step towards war, towards destruction. Because it’s the same thing to destroy with the tongue as with an atomic bomb; it’s the same. You destroy. And the tongue has the power to destroy as an atomic bomb. It’s very powerful. And I don’t say this, the Apostle James says it in his Letter. Take the Bible and look this up. It’s very powerful! It’s capable of destroying. And with insults, with badmouthing others, many wars begin: domestic wars — one starts shouting –, wars in the neighborhood, in the workplace, in school, in the parish . . . So Jesus says: “Before running others down, take a mirror and look at yourself; look at your defects and be ashamed for having them. And then you’ll become mute about others’ defects.” “No, Father, it’s that so many times there are bad people, who have so many defects . . . “ Well, ok, be courageous, be courageous and say it to their face: “You are bad because you are doing this and that.” Say it to their face, not behind their back, not from behind. Say it to their face. But it’s better not to say it in gossiping, because gossiping doesn’t resolve anything, rather, it makes things worse and leads to war.[Shortly] we will begin Lent: it would be so good for every one of us to reflect on this Lent. How do I behave with people? How is my heart before people? Am I a hypocrite, who smiles and then behind their back I criticize and destroy them with my tongue? And, if at the end of Lent we were able to correct this a bit, and not always criticize others behind their back, I assure you that Jesus’ Resurrection will be seen more beautiful, greater among us. “Oh, Father, it’s very difficult, because I like to criticize others” – one of us can say because it’s a habit that the devil puts in us. It’s true; it’s not easy. However, there are two medicines that help a lot. First of all, prayer. If it comes to you to “skin” another, to criticize another, pray for him, pray for her, and ask the Lord to resolve the problem; it’s for you to close your mouth. First remedy: prayer. Without prayer, we can do nothing. And second, there is another medicine like prayer, it must also be practiced: when you feel like badmouthing someone, bite your tongue. Hard! Because then it will swell and you won’t be able to speak. [They laugh]. It’s a practical medicine; it’s very practical.
Think seriously about what Jesus says: Why do you look at others’ defects and don’t look at yours, which are greater? “ Think about it. Think that this awful habit is the beginning of so much disunion, of so many domestic wars, of wars in the neighborhood, wars in the workplace, of so many enmities. Think about it. And pray to the Lord, pray that He give you the grace not to badmouth others. And every day keep you false teeth ready to be the second medicine!
May the Lord bless you!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]