During his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope stressed this as he reflected on the conversion of the corrupt king Ahab in the first book of Kings, and on powerful men who are ‘on top,’ and of their arrogance and abuses.
The Pope acknowledged right away that wealth and power are realities that can be good and useful to the common good, as long as they are used to serve the poor and all, with justice and charity.
However, he lamented, often they aren’t used in this way, but rather become instruments of corruption and death.
Francis recalled how we see the story of Naboth, unjustly put to death so that King Ahab might take possession of his property. The Pontiff quoted from Matthew to show how the Lord’s logic is a bit counterintuitive: ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you Shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you Shall be your slave.” (Mt 20.25 to 27).
Francis underscored that the great must be prepared to serve.
Story of Today
“And this is not a story of the past, it is a story of today, the powerful who have more money to exploit the poor; It is the story of human trafficking, slave labor, the poor people working ‘in black,'” he noted, adding it is “the story of corrupt politicians who want more and more and more and more!”
The Jesuit Pope then recommended faithful read the book of St. Ambrose of Naboth because it is a topical book, and lamented when those with authority turn greedy and no longer respect life or justice.
Isaiah Wasn’t a Communist
The Jesuit Pope noted that a text of the prophet Isaiah is particularly illuminating in this respect. For when the Lord warns against the greed of the wealthy landowners, Isaiah says: ‘Ah! Those who join house to house, who connect field with field, Until no space remains, and you alone dwell in the midst of the land.”(Is 5,8).
“And the prophet Isaiah was not a communist! But God is greater than evil and dirty games made by humans.”
Francis explained that God in His mercy sends the prophet Elijah to help Ahab to convert. He sees his crime, knocks at the heart of Ahab, and accepts his repentence.
“How nice it would be that the powerful exploiters today do the same,” the Pope said, stressing mercy is always the way.
“Mercy can heal wounds and can change history,” the Pope said, adding, “But open your heart to mercy!”
“The mercy of God is stronger than human sin,” he said, noting Ahab is a perfect illustration.
Cross as Throne
The Pope reflected how God’s innocent Son became man in order to destroy evil with his forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the real king, Francis said, noting that his power is completely different.
“His throne is the Cross. He is not a king who kills, but on the contrary gives life.” The Pope noted how the Lord reaches out to all, especially the most vulnerable, lonely, and sinful.
“Jesus Christ with his closeness and tenderness brings sinners into the space of grace and forgiveness,” he said, noting this is God’s mercy.