Yesterday, on Italian television, Francis expressed his closeness to families, especially those with sick members, and to doctors, nurses and all those who provide essential services. Temptation is a process that “changes our hearts from good to bad, that leads along a downward path. It is something that grows, grows, grows slowly, then infects others and ultimately justifies itself.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning in Casa Santa Marta during which he warned against those who might be tempted to take advantage of the epidemic to make money.
“At this time of turmoil, hardships, and pain, many people have an opportunity to do one thing or another, [doing] many good things. However, some might think of doing something not so good, taking advantage of the situation, taking advantage of it for themselves, for their own profit. Let us pray today that the Lord may grant everyone an upright conscience, a transparent conscience, that it may be looked upon by God without shame.”
Last night, on Italian television, Francis expressed his closeness to families, especially those with sick members, and to doctors, nurses and all those who provide essential services.
“I feel in my heart for all the families, especially those who have some dear member ill or who have unfortunately known bereavement due to coronavirus or other causes,” said Francis. “Lately, I feel for the people who are alone, those who find it harder to face this situation; above all seniors, who are so dear to me. I can't forget those who are ill with the coronavirus, people in hospital.”
“I know about the generosity of those who put themselves in harm’s way in order to fight the pandemic or guarantee essential services to society. How many heroes, every day, every hour! I also feel for those who are in financial straits, worried about jobs and the future. A thought also goes to inmates in prisons, whose pain is compounded by the fear of the epidemic, for themselves and their loved ones. I feel for the homeless who don't have a home to protect them.”
Today, in his homily, Francis reflected upon the Gospel passage (Jn 11, 45-56) centred on the decision by the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus after the resurrection of Lazarus. Francis noted that "for some time the doctors of the law, even the high priests, were worried because strange things happening in the country.” First John the Baptist, whom “they left alone because he was a prophet", then "this Jesus" who "began to perform signs, miracles, but above all to speak to people, whom people understood, and followed him. He did not always observe the law and this worried them a lot. "This is a revolutionary, a peaceful revolutionary ... This brings people to him, people follow him ...” (cf. Jn 11:47-48).
Eventually, “some went up to him to test him and the Lord always had a clear answer which, they, doctors of the law, had not thought about. They later sent soldiers to seize him and they came back saying: 'We could not take him because this man speaks like no one else . . . You too have been deceived’ (cf. Jn 7:45-49). [They were] angry because not even the soldiers could seize him. Later, after Lazarus’s resurrection, which we heard about today, many Jews went to see Lazarus’s sisters. Some went to see how things were to report them; some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done (cf. Jn 11.45). Others believed in Him. And those who went, the usual chatterbox, who live (for chattering) ... went to tell them.
"At that time, that group of doctors of the law held a formal meeting. 'This is very dangerous; we have to make a decision. What are we going to do? This man performs many signs.’ They recognised miracles. ‘If we let him continue like this, everyone will believe in him; this is dangerous; people will follow him, and move away from us.’ People were not attached to them.
“‘The Romans will come and destroy our temple and our nation’ (cf. Jn 1:48). There was some truth in this but not the whole [truth]. It was a justification, because they had found a balance with the occupier. They hated the Roman occupier, but politically they had found a balance. This is what they told each other. One of them, Caiaphas, "was the most radical,” a high priest. He said “consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish” (Jn.11:50).
“It was a process, a process that began with small fears at the time of John the Baptist and ended in this meeting of the doctors of the law and priests. A process that grew, a process that was more certain of the decision that they had to take, but nobody had said it so clear: ‘He must be eliminated.’
“The way the doctors of the law proceeded exemplifies how temptation operates in us because obviously the devil was behind it; he wanted to destroy Jesus and temptation in us generally operates as follow: It starts small, with a desire, an idea; it grows, infects others and ultimately justifies itself. These are the three steps of the devil's temptation in us and here are the three steps that the devil's temptation did to doctors of the law. It started small, but grew, grew, infecting others; it became body and, in the end, it justified itself. ‘It is necessary for one to die for the nation’ (cf. Jn 11:50); [this is] full justification. And everyone went home relaxed. They said, ‘This is the decision we had to make.'”
“All of us, when we are won over by temptation, we relax, because we found a justification for sin, for a sinful attitude, for a life that doesn’t follow the law of God. [Instead,] e should be able to see the process of temptation in us, which changes our hearts from good to bad, which leads along a downward path. It is something that grows, grows, grows slowly, then infects others and ultimately justifies itself. Temptations don’t normally come to us at once. The devil is cunning. He knows how to follow this path, the same one he followed to get Jesus convicted.”
“When we find ourselves in a sin, in a fall; yes, we must ask the Lord for forgiveness. It is the first (step) we must take, but then (we must say): 'How did I come to fall there? How did this process start in my soul? How did it grow? Whom did I infect? How in the end did I justify my fall?”
“The life of Jesus is always an example for us, and the things that happened to Jesus are things that will happen to us, the temptations, the justifications, good people are around us whom perhaps we don't hear, and the bad ones. When temptation comes, we try to get closer (to them) to make temptation grow. Let's never forget that behind a sin, behind a fall, there is always a temptation that started small, grew, and infected. In the end, I find a justification for falling. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us in this inner knowledge.”
The Pope ended the celebration with the Eucharistic adoration and the blessing, urging everyone to make spiritual communion.