“These days we join the sick, the families, who are suffering from this pandemic. And I would also like to pray today for pastors who must accompany God’s people in this crisis: that the Lord give them strength and also the ability to choose the best means to help. ”
This is the request of Pope Francis today, March 13, 2020, at the fifth Mass in Santa Marta broadcast live in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, he added: “Drastic measures are not always good, that is why we pray: that the Holy Spirit gives pastors the pastoral capacity and discernment to provide measures that do not leave only the faithful people of God. May the people of God feel accompanied by the shepherds and by the comfort of the Word of God, the sacraments and prayer ”.
The Holy Father does not refer to the measures taken by the Government to contain contagion by avoiding public activity, but to those that pastors must undertake taking into account the needs of the faithful who need to be spiritually accompanied in such a dramatic moment.
In his homily, commenting on the readings of the day, and in particular the parable of the homicidal vine-growers, he reflected on infidelity to the covenant of those who take possession of the gift of God that is wealth, openness and blessing, and cage it in a doctrine (Mt 21: 33-43.45).
For Francis, the appropriation of the gift of God “is the sin of forgetting that God has become a gift for us, that God has given us this as a gift and, forgetting this, becoming teachers”.
In this case, “the promise is no longer a promise, the choice is no longer a choice: ‘The pact must be interpreted in my opinion, ideologized.'” And in this attitude, the Pope observes “perhaps the beginning, in the Gospel, of clericalism, which is a perversion, which always denies the free choice of God, the free covenant of God, the free promise of God. Forget the gratuitousness of revelation, forget that God manifested Himself as a gift, he has made himself a gift for us and we must give it, make others see him as a gift, not as our possession ”.
In this sense, the Pontiff pointed out how “clericalism is not something unique only in these days, rigidity is not something of these days, it was already there in the time of Jesus.” For this reason, he exhorted: “Let us ask the Lord today for the grace to receive the gift as a gift and to transmit the gift as a gift, not as a property, not in a sectarian way, in a rigid way, in a” clericalist “way. ”
Full Text of The Holy Father’s Homily
Both Readings are a prophecy of the Lord’s Passion. Joseph sold as a slave for 20 shekels of silver and handed over to the pagans. It’s Jesus’ parable, which speaks clearly, symbolically, of the killing of the Son. The story of “a man who had a plot of land, and planted a vine there — he did it with such care — he surrounded it with a hedge, he dug a hole for the press and built a tower — he made it well –. Then he rented it to farmers and went away.”
This is the People of God. The Lord chose those people; those people were elected. They are the Chosen People. There is also a promise: “Go forward. You are my people.,” a promise made to Abraham. And there is also a Covenant made with the people in Sinai. The people must always keep the election in their memory — the fact that they are a chosen people, the promise to look ahead with hope and the Covenant to live fidelity every day. However, it happens in this parable that, when the time came to gather the fruits, these people forgot they weren’t the owners: “The farmers took the servants, beat one, killed another and stoned another. Then the owner sent other servants, more numerous, but they were treated the same way.” Jesus certainly makes one see here — He is speaking to the Doctors of the Law — how the Doctors of the Law have treated the prophets. “Finally he sent his own son,” thinking that they would have respect for his son. “However, the farmers, seeing the son, said to one another: ‘He is the heir. Come on, let’s kill him and we’ll have his inheritance!”
They robbed the inheritance, which was another. It’s a story of infidelity, of infidelity to the election, of infidelity to the promise, of infidelity to the Covenant, which is a gift. The election, the promise, the Covenant are a gift of God — infidelity to God’s gift. They did not understand it was a gift and took it as their property. These people appropriated the gift to themselves and took away it’s being a gift to transform it into “my” property. And the gift that was richness, openness, and blessing, was closed, caged in a legal doctrine — many doctrines. It was ideologized, and so the gift lost its nature of gift and ended in an ideology, especially in a moralistic ideology full of precepts, even ridiculous precepts because it descends to casuistry for everything. They appropriated the gift.
This is the great sin. It’s the sin to forget that God made Himself gift for us; that God has given us this as gift and, forgetting this, becoming owners. And the promise is no longer promise; the election is no longer election: “The Covenant is interpreted according to my view, ideologized.” Here, in this attitude, I see perhaps in the Gospel the beginning of clericalism, which is a perversion, which always reneges God’s free election, God’s free Covenant, God’s free promise. It forgets the gratuitousness of revelation, it forgets that God manifested Himself as gift; He made Himself gift for us and we must give it, make others see it as gift, not as our possession.
Clericalism isn’t only something of these days; rigidity isn’t a thing of these days; it existed already in Jesus’ time. And then Jesus goes on in explaining the parable — this is chapter 21 –, He goes on until He arrives at chapter 23 with the condemnation, where God’s wrath is seen against those that take the gift as their property and reduce its richness to the ideological whims of their mind.
Let us ask the Lord today for the grace to receive the gift as gift and transmit the gift as gift and not as property, not in a sectarian way, in a rigid way, in a “clericalist” way.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester