At the concluding Mass for the Amazon Synod, Pope Francis traces the three possible styles of prayer: the Pharisee, the tax collector, the poor man. In addition to the synod fathers, representatives of the Amazon Indian communities were present, with their faces painted in celebration, headdresses of multicolored feathers, elaborate necklaces. There are people who call themselves "Catholics", but in reality they are followers of the "religion of the I", who have forgotten they are "Christian and human". "We are a bit tax collector... and a bit Pharisee”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - " In this Synod we have had the grace of listening to the voices of the poor and reflecting on the precariousness of their lives, threatened by predatory models of development. Yet precisely in this situation, many have testified to us that it is possible to look at reality in a different way, accepting it with open arms as a gift, treating the created world not as a resource to be exploited but as a home to be preserved, with trust in God.... How many times, even in the Church, have the voices of the poor not been heard and perhaps scoffed at or silenced because they are inconvenient. Let us pray for the grace to be able to listen to the cry of the poor: this is the cry of hope of the Church. When we make their cry our own, our prayer too will reach to the clouds".
Thus Pope Francis concluded his homily delivered during the Mass celebrated today in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the end of the Special Synod on the Amazon. The Mass was attended by all the synod fathers and the auditors. Among the faithful, there were representatives of the Amazon Indian communities, with their faces painted in celebration, headdresses of multicolored feathers, elaborate necklaces. Some of them participated in the offertory procession, carrying gifts to the altar.
In his homily, referring to the Sunday liturgy (30th, year C), the pontiff showed the different types of prayer suggested by the readings.
First of all there is "the prayer of the Pharisee" (v. Gospel, Luke 18, 9-14), who "ends up praising himself instead of praying. In fact, he asks nothing from the Lord because he does not feel needy or in debt, but that God owes something to him. He stands in the temple of God, but the one he worships is himself. Together with God, he forgets his neighbour; indeed, he despises him. For the Pharisee, his neighbour has no worth, no value. He considers himself better than others, whom he calls literally “the rest, the remainders” (loipoi, Lk 18:11). That is, they are “leftovers”, scraps from which to keep one’s distance."
These "alleged superiorities, which turn into oppression and exploitation" are present "even today" and "we saw it in the scarred face of the Amazon".
Moving from his prepared text, the Pope often emphasized that there are people who call themselves "Catholics", but in reality they are followers of the "religion of the self", who have forgotten they are "Christian and human".
Then there is "the prayer of the tax collector": " He does not begin from his own merits but from his shortcomings; not from his riches but from his poverty. His was not economic poverty – tax collectors were wealthy and tended to make money unjustly at the expense of their fellow citizens – but a poverty of life, because we never live
well in sin. … He “beat his breast” (cf. v. 13), because the breast is where the heart is. His prayer is born from the heart; it is transparent. He places his heart before God, not outward appearances. To pray is to stand before God’s eyes, without illusions, excuses or justifications. From the devil come darkness and lies; light and truth come from God. It was a wonderful experience, and I am grateful, dear members of the Synod, that we have been able to speak to one another in these weeks from the heart, with sincerity and candour, and to place our efforts and hopes before God and our brothers and sisters. Today, looking at the tax collector, we rediscover where to start: from the conviction that we, all of us, are in need of salvation.”.
Pope Francis explained “If we look at ourselves honestly, we see in us all both the tax collector and the Pharisee. We are a bit tax collectors because we are sinners, and a bit Pharisees because we are presumptuous, able to justify ourselves, masters of the art of self-justification. This may often work with ourselves, but not with God. Let us pray for the grace to experience ourselves in need of mercy, interiorly poor".
Finally there is "the prayer of the poor": "This prayer, says Sirach, “will reach to the clouds” (35:21). While the prayer of those who presume that they are righteous remains earthly, crushed by the gravitational force of egoism, that of the poor person rises directly to God. The sense of faith of the People of God has seen in the poor “the gatekeepers of heaven”: they are the ones who will open wide or not the gates of eternal life. They were not considered bosses in this life, they did not put themselves ahead of others; they had their wealth in God alone. These persons are living icons of Christian prophecy".