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Pope: the culture of economic wellbeing and attraction towards the provisional prevent us from following Jesus


(Vatican Radio) In order to follow Jesus we must get rid of our culture based on economic wellbeing and of our attraction for the provisional. This was the message highlighted this morning by Pope Francis during Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Addressing those present the Pope invited us to examine our consciences and take stock of the riches that prevent us from getting close to Jesus. The Mass, that was concelebrated by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, also saw the participation of members of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers led by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski President of the Council, and a group of collaborators of the Vatican Department of Economic Services, led by Mr. Sabatino Napolitano.

Jesus asked a young man to give all his riches to the poor and then to follow him. But when the young man heard this, he went away sad. Pope Francis’ homily found inspiration in the well-known episode narrated in the Gospel, and he underlined that “riches are an impediment” that “do not facilitate our journey towards the Kingdom of God”. And he pointed out: “Each and every one of us has riches”. There is always, he said, a richness that “stops us from getting close to Jesus”. And this must be singled out. We must all, he continued, examine our conscience and pinpoint our riches because they stop us from getting close to Jesus on the path of life”. And the Pope focused on what he called two “cultural riches”: the first, a “culture of economic wellbeing that causes us to be lacking in courage, makes us lazy, makes us selfish”. Wellbeing, he said, “anaesthetizes us, it’s an anaesthetic”.

“No, no, not more than one child, because otherwise we will not be able to go on holiday, we will not be able to go out, we will not be able to buy a house. It’s all very well to follow the Lord, but only up to a certain point. This is what economic wellbeing does to us: we all know what wellbeing is, but it deprives us of courage, of the courage we need to get close to Jesus. This is the first richness of the culture of today, the culture of economic wellbeing”.

There is also, he added, “another richness in our culture”, another richness that prevents us from getting close to Jesus: it’s our fascination for the temporary”. We, he observed, are “in love with the provisional”. We don’t like Jesus’s “definitive proposals”. Instead we like what is temporary because “we are afraid of God’s time” which is definitive.

“He is the Lord of time; we are the masters of the moment. Why? Because we are in command of the moment: I will follow the Lord up to this point, and then I will see… I heard of a man who wanted to become a priest - but only for ten years, not any longer…” Attraction for the provisional: this is a richness. We want to become masters of time, we live for the moment. These two riches are the ones that, in this moment, prevent us from going forward. I think of so many men and women who have left their land to work throughout their lives as missionaries: that is definitive!”.

And, he said, I also think of so many men and women who “have left their homes to commit to a lifelong marriage”, that is “to follow Jesus closely! It’s the definitive”. The temporary, Pope Francis stressed, “is not following Jesus”, it’s “our territory”.

Before Jesus’ invitation, before these two cultural riches, let us think of the disciples: they were disconcerted. We too can be disconcerted by Jesus’ request. When Jesus explained something, people listened in amazement. Let us ask the Lord to give us the courage to go forward, to rid ourselves of this culture of economic wellbeing, hoping in time – at the end of the journey where He awaits us. Not with the small hope of the moment that will no longer be of any use. And so be it”.