Sinners, the corrupt, and saints: Pope Francis focused on these three groups in his
homily for Mass Monday morning in at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said the corrupt
do great harm to the Church because they are worshipers of themselves; the saints,
on the other hand, do great good, they are lights in the Church.
What happens when we want to become the owners of the vineyard? The parable of the wicked tenants in Monday's Gospel reading provided the starting point for Pope Francis’ homily, which focused on “the three models of Christians in the Church: sinners, corrupt persons; and the saints.” The Pope noted that “there is no need to talk too much about sinners, because we are all sinners." "We recognize this from the inside,” he continued, “and we know what a sinner is. If any one of us does not feel that way, he should make a visit to a spiritual doctor” because “something is wrong.” The parable, however, presents us with another figure, the figure of those who want “to take possession of the vineyard, and who have lost the relationship with the Master of the vineyard,” a Master who, “has called us with love, who protects us, but who then gives us freedom.” Those who would take possession of the vineyard, “think they are strong, they think they are independent of God”:
“These, slowly, slipped on that autonomy, that independence in their relationship with God: ‘We don’t need that Master, who shouldn’t come and disturb us!’ And we go forward with this. These are the corrupt! These were sinners like all of us, but they have taken a step beyond that, as if they were confirmed in their sin: they don’t need God! But it only seems so, for in their genetic code there is this relationship with God. And since they can’t deny this, they make a special god: they themselves are god. They are corrupt.”
“This is a danger for us, too,” he added. In the “Christian communities,” he said, the corrupt think only of their own group: “Good, good. It’s about us - they think - but, in fact, ‘they are only out for themselves”:
“Judas [was the first]: from a greedy sinner, he ended in corruption. The road of autonomy is a dangerous road: the corrupt are very forgetful, have forgotten this love, with which the Lord made the vineyard, has made them! They severed the relationship with this love! And they become worshipers of themselves. How bad are the corrupt in the Christian community! May the Lord deliver us from sliding down this road of corruption.”
The Pope spoke also of the saints, remembering that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Bd Pope John XXIII, “a model of holiness.” In the day's Gospel, he added, the saints are those who “go to collect the rent” on the vineyard. “They know what is expected of them, but they must do it, and they do their duty”:
“The saints are those who obey the Lord, those who worship the Lord, those who have not lost the memory of the love with which the Lord has made the vineyard: the saints in the Church. Just as the corrupt do so much harm to the Church, the saints do so much good. The apostle John says of the corrupt that they are the antichrist, that they are among us, but they are not of us. About the saints, the Word of God tells us they are like light, ‘that they will be before the throne of God in adoration.’ Today we ask the Lord for the grace to understand that we are sinners, but truly sinners, not sinners broadly, but sinners with regard to this, that, and the other thing, concrete sins, with the concreteness of sin. The grace to not become corrupt: sinners, yes; corrupt, no! And the grace to walk in the paths of holiness. So be it.”
Cardinal Angelo Amato, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, concelebrated the Mass, which was attended by a group of priests and collaborators from the Congregation, as well as a group of Gentlemen of His Holiness.