Pope Francis asks God to help pastors make choices that won't leave the "faithful people of God alone."
Beginning his Mass on Friday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reiterated his prayers for those who are ill and their families, as well as praying for pastors:
I would also like to pray today for pastors who need to accompany the people of God during this crisis. May the Lord grant them the strength and the ability to choose the best ways to help. Drastic measures are not always good. Therefore, we pray that the Holy Spirit might grant pastoral discernment to pastors so that they might perceive measures that might not leave the holy, faithful people of God alone, and so that people of God might feel accompanied by their pastors.
The comment seemed directed to a decision made Thursday evening in the Diocese to close the parish churches of Rome, in accord with all public shops in the country — other than pharmacies and groceries — being closed.
Some hours after the pope’s homily, the cardinal vicar of Rome reversed the decision, saying that each pastor should follow his conscience in deciding the best course to take on opening his church.
The papal almoner — the pope’s righthand man for charitable works — had already decided to open his church and expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration, saying, “Home should always be open to its children.”
Pope Francis’ homily focused on God’s care for his people, drawing from the reading about the landowner and the vineyard, who sends servants for the harvest only to have them beaten and killed.
This parable refers to God’s care for His people, the pope said. The vineyard is the chosen people, the tenants are the Doctors of the law, and the servants are the prophets. God did His work well in the vineyard, the pope said. The hedge, the winepress and the tower can be compared to God’s election of the chosen people, the promise He made to Abraham, and the covenant relationship He entered into with them on Sinai.
The people must always keep that election in their memory – that they are a chosen people; the promise –so they always look ahead in hope; and the covenant in order to daily live in fidelity.
When God sends His servants to receive the fruit of the vineyard from the tenants, they are beaten, killed and stoned. Then instead of respecting the landowner’s own son, they kill him to get his inheritance.
“They robbed the inheritance,” Pope Francis said. “It’s a story of infidelity” to God’s call; infidelity to their election, to the promise and to the covenant, which are God’s gifts.”
They don’t understand that it was a gift. They take it as a possession. These people appropriated the gift.They took away the aspect of the gift to transform it into their own possession. The gift that was richness, openness and blessing was closed, put inside a cage.
Pope Francis attributes this to the “sin of forgetting.” We forget that “God has made a gift of Himself to us so that He might be given as a gift.” Instead of receiving the gift, we try to own it.
So, the promise is no longer a promise, the election is no longer an election, the covenant is interpreted according to my own opinion. It becomes an ideology.
The Pope concluded his homily with a prayer that we might be granted the grace of “receiving the gift as a gift and of transmitting this gift as a gift and not as a possession, not in a sectarian, rigid or clerical manner.”