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Pope Francis \ Homilies

Pope Francis: Church's joy is to be a mother

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the chapel at the Casa Santa Marta. - OSS_ROM

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the chapel at the Casa Santa Marta. - OSS_ROM

09/12/2014 12:02

(Vatican Radio) The joy of the Church is to be a mother, to go out and seek the lost sheep. That was the message of Pope Francis during Tuesday’s morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said that the Church does not need to have “a perfect organizational chart” if that would make her sorrowful and closed on herself, if that would make her “not a mother.” He then invited his listeners to be “joyful Christians,” with the “consolation of the tenderness of Jesus.”

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

“Open the doors to the consolation of the Lord.” In this passage, which served as the starting point for the Pope’s homily, Isaiah is speaking about the end of the tribulation of Israel after the Babylonian exile. “The people,” Pope Francis said, “have need of consolation. The very presence of the Lord consoles [them].” It is one consolation that is with them even in tribulation. And yet, he warned, “we usually flee from consolation; we have no confidence; we are more comfortable in our stuff, we are more comfortable even in our failures, in our sins.” This, he said, “is our country.” On the other hand, the Pope continued, “when the Spirit comes, consolation comes as well, and bears us to another state that we cannot control: this is precisely abandonment in the consolation of the Lord.”

Pope Francis emphasized that “the greatest consolation is that of mercy and forgiveness.” He then turned his thoughts to Ezekiel, chapter 16, when, after so many sins of the people, our Lord says, “I will never abandon you; I will give you more; this will be my revenge: consolation and pardon.” This, the Pope said, is our God.” For this reason, he said, “it is good to repeat: allow yourselves to be consoled by the Lord; He alone can console us.” And we should do so even if “we are used to ‘renting’ small consolations of our own making,” but that simply “doesn’t work.”

The Holy Father then spoke about the parable of the lost sheep, from the day’s Gospel:

“I ask myself, what is the consolation of the Church? Just as an individual is consoled when he feels the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord, the Church rejoices and is happy when she goes out of herself. In the Gospel, the pastor who goes out goes to seek the lost sheep – he could keep accounts like a good businessman. [He could say]: ‘Ninety-nine sheep, if I lose one, it’s no problem; the balance sheet – gains and losses. But it’s fine, we can get by.’ No, he has the heart of a shepherd, he goes out and searches for [the lost sheep] until he finds it, and then he rejoices, he is joyful.

“The joy of going out to seek the brothers and sisters who are far off: This is the joy of the Church. Here the Church becomes a mother, becomes fruitful”:

“When the Church does not do this, then the Church stops herself, is closed in on herself, even if she is well organized, has a perfect organizational chart, everything’s fine, everything’s tidy – but she lacks joy, she lacks peace, and so she becomes a disheartened Church, anxious, sad, a Church that seems more like a spinster than a mother, and this Church doesn’t work, it is a Church in a museum. The joy of the Church is to give birth; the joy of the Church is to go out of herself to give life; the joy of the Church is to go out to seek the sheep that are lost; the joy of the Church is precisely the tenderness of the shepherd, the tenderness of the mother.”

The end of the passage from Isaiah, he explained, again takes up this image: “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs.” This, the Pope said, “is the joy of the Church, to go out of herself and to become fruitful.”

“May the Lord give us the grace of working, of being joyful Christians in the fruitfulness of Mother Church, and keep us from falling into the attitude of these sad Christians, impatient, disheartened, anxious, that have all the perfection in the Church, but do not have ‘children.’ May the Lord console us with the consolation of a Mother Church that goes out of herself and consoles us with the consolation of the tenderness of Jesus and His mercy in the forgiveness of our sins.”

 

 

09/12/2014 12:02