Just as a mother loves her baby, God loves us. During his daily Mass at Casa Santa Marta this morning, the Holy Father affirmed this when reflecting on today’s reading from the prophet Isaiah, reported Vatican Radio.
The way God saves his people, Francis stated, is "not from afar, but being close, tenderly.”
“God is presented here as a mother," he observed, "as a mother talks to her baby: when a mother sings a lullaby to her baby, she takes the voice of the child ... She talks with the tone of the child, to the point of seeming ridiculous."
Our heavenly Father, he also noted in the homily, loves us freely, caresses us, and coddles us. But rather than accept this grace, we try to "control" and “commodify” it.
"In this way," the Pope explained, "this beautiful truth of God's closeness slips into a kind spiritual book-keeping: 'I will do this because it will give me 300 days of grace ... I will do that because it will give me this, and doing so I will accumulate grace.'"
"But what is grace? A commodity? That’s what it appears. And throughout history, this closeness of God to his people has been betrayed by this selfish attitude, selfish, by wanting to control grace, to turn it into merchandise."
The Pope reminded those gathered of the groups during Jesus’ time which made this mistake, including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots.
"The grace of God," he said, "is another matter: it is close, it is tenderness.”
Francis explained it involves God telling you "beautiful things with tenderness: this is our justice, this closeness of God, this tenderness, this love."
"At the risk of seeming ridiculous, our God is so good to us," he said.
“If we had the courage to open our hearts to this tenderness of God, how much spiritual freedom we would have! How much!"
Extending an invitation to those gathered, Pope Francis told those listening, “Today, if you have a little time, at home, take the Bible: Isaiah, Chapter 41, verses 13 to 20, seven verses. And read it.”
Here, he noted, we see this tenderness of God, “this God who sings in each of us a lullaby, like a mother."
A Church closed in on Herself is a "hopeless Church that is more of a spinster than a mother". These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning. According to Vatican Radio, the Pope reflected on today's Gospel from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells the story of the shepherd who went in search of the lost sheep. "And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray," Jesus says. "In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
The Holy Father explained that the Church is joyful and happy "when she goes out of herself." He also explained that the shepherd in the Gospel could have taken a business approach and see losing one sheep as a small loss.
"No, he has the heart of a shepherd, he goes out and searches for [the lost sheep] until he finds it, and then he rejoices, he is joyful," the Pope said.
“The joy of going out to seek the brothers and sisters who are far off: This is the joy of the Church. Here the Church becomes a mother, becomes fruitful”
However, the Pope warned that when the Church closes in on herself, it becomes stagnant and disheartened. Without joy or peace, he said, it becomes "a Church that seems more like a spinster than a mother."
"The joy of the Church is to give birth; the joy of the Church is to go out of herself to give life; the joy of the Church is to go out to seek the sheep that are lost; the joy of the Church is precisely the tenderness of the shepherd, the tenderness of the mother," he said.
Concluding his homily, the Pope called on the faithful to pray for grace of being joyful Christians, who may have organizational perfection in the Church, yet are barren and do not give fruit.
"May the Lord console us with the consolation of a Mother Church that goes out of herself and consoles us with the consolation of the tenderness of Jesus and His mercy in the forgiveness of our sins," concluded.
The joy of a Christian can be found if one is grounded upon the rock, which is Christ. This was the central theme of Pope Francis' homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.
The Pope reflected on today's Gospel from St. Matthew, in which Jesus says that those who listen and act on his words "will be like a wise man who built his house on rock." He said that the Word is an invitation to not lives as "Christians in appearance" but to live it in daily life.
The Holy Father recalled the children who suffer, offering their pains for the Church, as well as the elderly who are often alone and families continue to hope in Christ despite their struggles. He also remembered priests and those in religious life.
"We think of so many priests who are barely seen but work in their parishes with so much love: in giving catechism classes for children, the care for the elderly, of the sick, marriage preparations," he said. "They are not bored because there is rock in their foundation. It is Jesus, it is that which gives holiness to the Church, it gives hope."
The 77 year old Pontiff went on to say that the proud, the vain, and those who are Christian in appearance will be humbled, while the poor will triumph. "They are, he said, "the poor in spirit, those who in front of God and feel they are nothing, the humble, who bring forward salvation by putting the Word of the Lord into practice."
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to be firmly grounded on the rock, which is Christ.
"We are all sinners, we are weak," he said, "but if we place our hope in Him we can go forward. And this is the joy of a Christian: to know that in Him there is hope, there is forgiveness, there is peace, [and] there is joy- to not place our hope in things that are here today and gone tomorrow."
“Only those whose hearts are like the young” are able to receive the revelation of God. This was the reflection given by Pope Francis during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
The Pope reflected on today’s Gospel from St. Luke, in which Christ praises God for revealing His will to the “childlike”.
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see,” Jesus says to his disciples. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Pope Francis said that through His prayer, Christ reveals to Christians the inner life He has. That revelation, he stressed, is given to “the humble of heart, the meek, who feel the need to pray, to open up to God, who feel poor; only he who goes forward with the first Beatitude: the poor in spirit."
While acknowledging that while some many the science behind theology, the Holy Father said that those who do not do “this theology on their knees, humbly” will not understand anything.
“Only with this poverty is one capable of receiving the revelation that the Father gives through Jesus,” the Pope said.
Referring to the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pope said that Christ is not a captain or army general, but rather like a bud. “He is a bud that is humble, mild, and came to the humble, and to the meek, to bring salvation to the sick, the poor, the oppressed,” the Pope said.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on Christians to follow Christ’s path of humility, meekness and poverty during the Advent season, “so that he can come to save us, to free us.”
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John