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“From simple disciples of the Master we become teachers of complexity, who argue much and do little, who seek answers more in front of the computer than in front of the Crucifix,” Pope Francis warned during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 2, All Souls’ Day. Speaking about the Last Judgment that awaits every man after his death, the Pontiff recalled that before “the divine tribunal, the only merit and accusation is mercy toward the poor and the excluded.”
The celebration was held in suffrage for the nine cardinals and 148 bishops who have died since November 2, 2021. The Mass was presided by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, with the Pope remaining seated throughout the celebration.
In his homily, the Pontiff, speaking in front of many cardinals and bishops of the Curia, urged us not to “lose sight of the meaning of the way, the goal of the journey,” that is life. He recalled that when one dies, “the best careers, the greatest achievements, the most prestigious recognitions, the accumulated riches and earthly gains, all will vanish in an instant.”
Do not “sweeten the taste of the Gospel”
The Holy Father called for the faithful to be ready for when the “Son of Man comes in His glory,” calling us to stop making excuses and compromises with the Gospel:
“Brothers, sisters, let us also not be surprised. Let us be very careful not to sweeten the taste of the Gospel. For often, out of convenience or comfort, we tend to tone down Jesus’ message, to water down his words. Let’s face it, we have gotten pretty good at compromising with the Gospel. Always up to here, up to there, compromises.”
The Pope offered an impression of our internal dialogues, and the ways we find to sneak around what Christ asks:
Feed the hungry yes, but the issue of hunger is complex, and I certainly can’t solve it! Helping the poor yes, but then injustices have to be dealt with in a certain way and then it is better to wait, also because to commit then you risk always being disturbed and maybe you realize that you could have done better, better to wait a little. To be close to the sick and the imprisoned yes, but on the front pages of the newspapers and on social media there are other more pressing problems and so why do I of all people have to be interested in them? Taking in migrants yes, of course, but it’s a complicated general issue, it’s about politics… I don’t get mixed up in these things…
Thus, Francis lamented, “Always the compromises: ‘yes, yes…’, but ‘no, no.'”
“These are the compromises we make with the gospel. Everything “yes” but, in the end, everything “no.” And so, by dint of “buts” and “ifs” – often we are men and women of “buts” and “ifs” – we make life a compromise with the Gospel.”
Those who look for answers on the Internet rather than in their neighbor
Pope Francis explained that these compromises take us away from our duty as Christians. He quoted his predecessor, Benedict XVI, to remind his audience of what this mission entails:
“From simple disciples of the Master we become masters of complexity, who argue a lot and do little, who seek answers more in front of the computer than in front of the Crucifix, on the Internet instead of in the eyes of our brothers and sisters; Christians who comment, debate and expound theories, but do not know even a poor person by name, have not visited a sick person for months, have never fed or clothed someone, have never befriended someone in need, forgetting that “the Christian’s programme is a heart which sees” (Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, 31).”
The Ukrainian pastor taking care of orphaned children
Pope Francis offered the example of a Ukrainian Lutheran pastor, from whom he received a letter this morning, who is currently taking care of orphaned or abandoned children.
“This man does what Jesus asks him to do: heal the smallest in the tragedy. And when I read that letter, written with so much pain, I was moved, because I said, ‘Lord, I can see that you continue to inspire true Kingdom values.'”
A visit to the Teutonic Cemetery
After the Mass, Pope Francis then visited the Teutonic Cemetery in the Vatican, where he blessed the tombs and silently prayed for the souls of the deceased faithful. He was welcomed by the Sisters Handmaids of Christ the Priest, who take care of the Cemetery, along with their Superior, the Rector of the Pontifical Teutonic College of Santa Maria in Camposanto, and the Vice Rector.