The Pope drew his homily from today's reading from Zephaniah, Chapter 3, which includes the text: "On that day / You need not be ashamed / of all your deeds, / your rebellious actions against me; / For then will I remove from your midst / the proud braggarts, / And you shall no longer exalt yourself / on my holy mountain. / But I will leave as a remnant in your midst / a people humble and lowly, / Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD: / the remnant of Israel."
He also drew from the Gospel reading of Matthew, Chapter 21, which relates the story of the man with two sons, one who tells his father he will not go work in the vineyard, but later repents and goes; and the other who says he will go but in fact does not.
The repentant group described by Zephaniah has "humility, poverty, and trust in the Lord," Francis said. But there are also those who "do not accept correction, they do not trust in the Lord."
"These people cannot receive Salvation. They are closed to Salvation. ‘I will leave within you the meek and humble; they will trust in the name of the Lord throughout their lives.' And that is still valid today, isn’t it? When we look at the holy people of God that is humble, that has its riches in its faith in the Lord, in its trust in the Lord - the humble, poor people that trust in the Lord: these are the ones who are saved and this is the way of the Church, isn’t it? This is the path I must follow, not the path in which I do not listen to His voice, do not accept correction and do not trust in the Lord," the Pope said.
Francis proposed that the scandal provoked by Jesus in the Gospel when he says, "tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you," is felt today by those who feel "pure" because they go to Mass and receive Communion.
God, Francis said, needs much more:"If your heart is not a repentant heart, if you do not listen to the Lord, if you don’t accept correction and you do not trust in Him, your heart is unrepentant," he said. "These hypocrites who were scandalized by what Jesus said about the tax collectors and the prostitutes, but then secretly approached them to vent their passion or to do business - but all in secrecy - were 'pure!' The Lord does not want them."
Jesus' message is one of hope, the Pope said, if we have the courage to give God our sins.
He recalled the story of a saint who thought he had given everything to the Lord:
"He listened to the Lord, he always followed His will, he gave to the Lord, and the Lord said to him: 'There is still one thing you have not given me.' And the poor man who was good said: 'But, Lord, what is it that I have not given you? I have given you my life, I work for the poor, I work for catechesis, I work here, I work there ...'
"'But there is something you have not given me yet.'
"'What is it Lord?'
"When we will be able to say to the Lord: 'Lord, these are my sins. They are not his or hers, they are mine… They are mine. Take them and I will be saved.' When we will be able to do this we will be that people, that meek and humble people, that trusts in the Lord's name. May the Lord grant us this grace."