Pope: be Christians not in word, but in deed, and bear fruit, as Jesus desires

During the Mass in St Peter's Basilica for the 4th World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis mentions Don Roberto Malgesini, a priest who was killed in Como on 15 September, “[H]e simply saw Jesus in the poor and found meaning in life in serving them.” “Those who do not live to serve, serve for little in this life.” “For the Gospel, faithfulness is never risk-free.” Those who are “content only to observe rules and obey commandments” make no mistakes, but “end up like mummies.” The real Christmas question: “What can I give to be truly like Jesus, who was born in the manger?”

 


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning in Saint Peter’s Basilica on the occasion of the 4th World Day of the Poor, centred this year on the theme ‘Stretch forth your hand to the poor’ (Sir 7:32).

In his homily, the pontiff urged the faithful “to be Christians not in word, but in deed. To bear fruit, as Jesus desires.” Worshippers representing the poor and destitute attended the Mass, celebrated at the Altar of the Chair, together with the volunteers who accompanied them and representatives of charities.

Commenting today’s Gospel (33rd of the Year, A, Matthew 25:14-30), the Parable of the Talents, the Pope said: “The parable [. . .] has a beginning, a middle and an end, which shed light on the beginning, the middle and the end of our lives”.

In the beginning, the Father “has given us so many good things, entrusting different talents to each of us. We possess a great wealth that depends not on what we possess but on what we are”.

“All too often,” the pontiff explained, “when we look at our lives, we see only the things we lack”. In fact, God has entrusted so much to us” “He trusts us, despite our weaknesses. [. . .] [T]he Lord asks us to make the most of the present moment, not yearning for the past, but waiting industriously for his return.”

“This brings us to the centre of the parable: the work of the servants, which is service.” [. . .] In the Gospel, good servants are those who take risks. [. . .] How many people spend their lives simply accumulating possessions, concerned only about the good life and not the good they can do. Yet how empty is a life centred on our needs and blind to the needs of others! The reason we have gifts is so that we can be gifts for others.” Francis repeated a couple of times: “Those who do not live to serve, serve for little in this life.”

“It is significant that fully four times those servants who invested their talents, who took a risk, are called “faithful” (vv. 21, 23). For the Gospel, faithfulness is never risk-free. [. . .] Fidelity to God means handing over our life, letting our carefully laid plans be disrupted by our need to serve. [. . .] It is sad when Christians play a defensive game, content only to observe rules and obey commandments. [. . .] [T]hose who take care of themselves to avoid risk begin in their lives a process of mummification”.

“Following rules is not enough; fidelity to Jesus is not just about not making mistakes, this is quite wrong. That is what the lazy servant in the parable thought: for lack of initiative and creativity, he yielded to needless fear and buried the talent he had received. [. . .] The Lord, for his part, asks us to be generous, to conquer fear with the courage of love, to overcome the passivity that becomes complicity. Today, in these times of uncertainty, in these times of instability, let us not waste our lives thinking only of ourselves”.

The Gospel mentions the “bankers” and the Pope asks: “Who are the ‘bankers’ who can provide us with long-term interest? They are the poor. [. . .] The poor guarantee us an eternal income. Even now they help us become rich in love.

“For the worst kind of poverty needing to be combatted is our poverty of love. The worst kind of poverty needing to be combatted is our poverty of love. [. . .] Hold out your hand to the poor, instead of demanding what you lack. In this way, you will multiply the talents you have received.

“Christmas is approaching,” he said. “People ask: “What can I buy? What can I have?” instead, “Let us use ask the right question. What can I give to be truly like Jesus, who was born in the manger?”

“At the end of our lives, [. . .] the truth will be revealed. The pretence of this world will fade, with its notion that success, power and money give life meaning, whereas love – the love we have given – will be revealed as true riches. [. . .] If we do not want to live life poorly, let us ask for the grace to see Jesus in the poor, to serve Jesus in the poor.”

Francis mentioned Fr Roberto Malgesini, a priest of the Diocese of Como, who was involved in charity work and was killed on 15 September by one of the people he helped.

“This priest,” said the Pope, “was not interested in theories; he simply saw Jesus in the poor and found meaning in life in serving them. He dried their tears with his gentleness, in the name of God who consoles. The beginning of his day was prayer, to receive God’s gifts; the centre of his day was charity, to make the love he had received bear fruit; the end was his clear witness to the Gospel. This man realized that he had to stretch out his hand to all those poor people he met daily, for he saw Jesus in each of them. Brothers and sisters, let us ask for the grace to be Christians not in word, but in deed. To bear fruit, as Jesus desires.”

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